Culture Skidding Leaves Mark on the Have Nots

| February 26, 2010

Nowadays culture seems less to be on the skids than skidding … out of control and in no good direction. The distinction between fly fishing haves and have nots seems to be widening like a Hatian fault line these days.

Those who depend on the fishing industry, fly fishing specifically, are reeling from the new American economic paradigm, while we as consumers can do little to nothing to stimulate our local fly shops, guides or other related businesses. What we wish we could do for ourselves, what we wish we could do for others, all are undergoing radical recalibrations. The smallest of financial things becomes big, and big things become overwhelming. The consumer switch has been flipped on the economy in general, just as it was flipped on the photo industry in 2003, and if I’m the canary in a coal mine, it isn’t ever coming back, and it’ll get worse before it gets better.

It’s in this environment we find ourselves immersed in arguably, the most expensive of fishing categories – one that espouses exotic destinations, guides and gear. So how do the have nots, who find themselves tangled in this financial backlash, see one of their passions through the darkness and back into the light?

The Have Nots
Just about everyone I know has been staying closer to home. Anyone who even dreamed of some exotic fly fishing trip is wide awake now, and heading to their local waters, big or small, as time or unemployment allows – to at least keep their casting in form and the basics from dulling. Equipment can wait, and things like boots, waders and such are worn thin or completely out. The latest greatest anything better be better than any upgrade in the past. Incremental ten or 20-percent improvements are just not worth the cost anymore. For some things an improvement of 50-percent is worthy of folding down a catalog page, but a 75 to 100-percent improvement makes a birthday or Christmas wish list. For the have nots, it’s like a vicious cycle where income is declining and costs for everything is increasing. How many guys call off summer trips because of the petroleum price gouging that happens every summer? Heck, just driving a little further to see what’s swimming over the next prairie is a luxury.

The Haves
Is it just me, or do the haves still have? It’s not about envy. I actually marvel at the way some people, either through their own success or birthright, move through this world virtually untouched, and survive the slings and arrows of misfits or misfortune. Perhaps they don’t have as much as in the past, but the have nots have taken such a beating that one could claim that a volatile social concoction has been formulated – the distance between haves and nots has never been so great. The illusion of closeness is worn perilously thin, and the ideal of being better off than our parents … vanished.

We look at things we really don’t need, but want them anyway. We had ideas that become dreams, and now we sleep without dreaming. How do we take this two-headed beast (Texas Fly Caster/fly fishing) and meld it tastefully with the increasing need to sustain itself? What would a Texas Fly Caster site that sustains itself look like, and how does anyone really turn something like this beast into an income venture?

I read something (on the internet) recently about the “Death of Magazines” and chimed in with my free words – “magazines will never die until they don’t cost anything to produce” therefore allowing anyone to publish their own magazine. The internet, on the other hand, allows and encourages everyone to put it all out there, and put it out there for free. Finding a logical way to monetize content is the next great frontier for the internet and requires a different kind of intelligence. The people who solve this problem aren’t going to be programmers because the programming will be easy. They are going to be marketing experts, people who know how to make you want, no beg, to pay for what they are selling.

So what does all this mean? Who knows what the future holds? If I did, I would already be a have wouldn’t I?

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Category: Culture on the Skids

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

Comments (2)

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  1. Shannon says:

    You got that right! March 1 is kill day at the Blue River. It’s a mercy killing actually.

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