The legend of the internet diver

You’ve probably encountered this person online somewhere, mostly likely on Facebook or one of the numerous SCUBA forums out there.  Perhaps you’ve caught a rare glimpse of them at a dive shop or even struck up a conversation with them in the wild.    They may well even be an “advanced technical diver” or “experienced SCUBA instructor.”  Their title and knowledge has no boundaries just like their ego. Regardless, the last place you will catch these people are actually on a fucking dive boat or a shore dive..  They’ll often makes up excuses like “weather is bad, I don’t want to dive this weekend”, “Well…I need to service my gear” or “I’m definitely going to try to dive next weekend..too busy to do any diving last month.”  The options are endless just like their excuses. They do dive just not with you or anyone else for that matter.  They even have pictures to prove it! Look at their forum avatar where they are in perfect trim! Or that one picture from the ice diving class they took 6 years ago! Perhaps they have a Facebook selfie from their last Mexico cenote dive from 2010!

Quite simply they usually spend too much time arguing and postulating about diving than doing the actual deed we peons like to call “SCUBA diving.”  It’s a lot like the former virgin who is now an expert on all things sex-related.  I like to refer to these people as “internet divers.”  A similar species also exists online in the UK but they simply call them
“muppets.”   You see..they are the world’s foremost experts and authority or ANYTHING scuba related.   Anything you’ve done they’ve done better and for far longer.   You will honestly never be as good as they claim to be so you might as well just give up now.

These people exist in every facet of life and can be found in practically any sport or hobby. They are your classic “one upper” personality and are exactly the type of sycophant person you should completely ignore and avoid. Unfortunately they manifest themselves very well online and exist practically everywhere.   They are found in droves in scuba diving since it’s a sport that seems to cater well to passive-aggressive macho assholes with money.

These people are usually not there to give you helpful advice or useful critique. They exist solely to tell you that what you’re doing is blatantly wrong and how awesome they are with no positive feedback or justification for their reasons.

Let’s look at some real world practical examples of how this might occur..

What they might say.. What they usually mean or could say..
Your trim sucks. Fucking stroke Get bent! Let me make fun of how badly your trim is without any valuable feedback whatsoever. Hey there friend, I noticed you look a little leg heavy. Have you tried shifting your weights or using lighter fins? Perhaps adjust your bands a bit.
Your gas choice sucks. You’re going to die a horrible death and I will need to recover your body.  I only dive o2 clean air that has been blessed by Buddhist monks and analyzed on a gas chromatograph. Hmm..well that is certainly an interesting gas choice friend, have you thought about lowing the O2 content or adding some He?  I find X, Y, Z has worked great for me.  Here are some very specific and not vague reasons why.
Split fins! HURR *GASP* Force Fin$$$ Ultra Quatro Mega Power Fins! Jet Fins Turtle Fins Have you ever tried X fin? You see I own exactly one pair of paddle fins and have never tried anything else. This makes me an Internet expert on every fin on the market. Trust me.
Have you tried our lord and savior, Jesus “Sidemount” Christ?  No other system even comes close! It is simply PERFECT for every dive. Backmount doubles are for plebian peasants! Repent! Have you thought about going sidemount for X, Y, Z benefits? I would be happy to show you my setup and we can have a friendly conversation about the pros and cons of each system.
Piston regulators are stupid. The performance is terrible! I know this because I once dove with a poorly maintained rental regulator in Mexico that had a ripped mouth piece and I swallowed water which made me sad therefore all piston regulators are SHIT. Hey there again good friend, I find piston regulators have a simple and tested design making them very easy to work on.  They are great for that reason however I find sealed diaphragm regulators to be better suited for extreme cold environments. Here are some very specific and not vague reasons why.
HOG regulators are Chinese-made pieces of shit.   The Internet told me they are bad. You’re an asshole for not supporting your local dive shop that I just happen to own.  The ScubaMax Pro Titanium 5000 is far superior in every way. I only sell and dive the best. Don’t you want to spend as much as small house on your vital LIFE SUPPORT equipment!? Financing is available. Golly gee whiz, I’ve never actually dove a HOG regulator and I have no personal experiences with them so I’m not going to comment since I’ve never used one. Let me show you some of the Apeks regulators I do carry. They have great performance and can be serviced almost anywhere.  Thank you for supporting your local dive shop.
X brand rebreather is crap!  Your unit is plastic Chinese-made crap. I’m going happily justify my purchase by telling you how much of a terrible life mistake you made by picking that rebreather.  By the way, I have no experience on your specific rebreather. Actually I have never dove a rebreather before. Well friend..I too also spent $7000 on a rebreather that basically does the same thing as yours.  Let’s have a friendly discussion about the pros and cons of each unit.  I happen to really like this feature on my unit which is why I bought it. You see I have something called personal experience beyond reading a thread on the Internet. This makes my opinion relevant.
Backmounted counterlungs are death traps. Frontmounted lungs get in the way! Work of breathing! ANSI machines and hydrostatic imbalances. I’ve never dove a rebreather. In fact, I’m not even certified to scuba dive. I only snorkel on vacation. I do however read a lot about rebreathers.
Backplate/wings, BP/W are the best. Have you tried a backplate/wing? You should really use a backplate and wing. I only know two words in the English language. They are backplate and wing.
Y brand drysuit sucks and is poorly made.  X drysuits are the best! You get a free kitten with every purchase. You know friend..I once took a drysuit course 8 years ago in a poorly-fitting and leaky drysuit of Y brand.  I don’t own actually own a drysuit or maybe have a total 10 dives in a drysuit so I really don’t know what I am talking about.  That however doesn’t stop me from having a very strong opinion about drysuits.
Drysuits are overly complicated and too much work. I dive a wetsuit year around and am fine!  Seriously..nobody needs a drysuit. I’m very warm blooded. I’ve never actually used a drysuit.  I do about 10 shore dives in July/August with a wetsuit and I take one winter plunge with my dive club in my Farmer John 7mm for 30 minutes in 38 degree water!   It’s so cool and so much fun! I literally turn blue and become hypothermic but you totally can dive in a wetsuit year round!

The Classic One Upper 

Want to talk about your recent trip to Florida Keys or perhaps a local dive you just did?  Well fuck you buddy, they just got back from Maldives on the latest luxury liveaboard.  It was awesome! They got 30 dives in and saw megalodon shark and a giant Manta ray on the same dive! Did you just complete your intro to cave training in Mexico?  That’s nice you slob, they just finished an expedition in the Wakulla Springs in Florida with the ghost of Sheck Exley.  Did you just complete a cool tech dive to 150ft? Well fuck you, your gas choice was all wrong and your trim was off by 5 degrees.  They regularly dive to 250ft on the internet so they know these things!  Did you just complete your PADI Tech40 course? Go away kid, you’re not a real technical diver until you take an advanced trimix course with GUE taught by Jarrod Jablonski himself while simultaneously being lectored by George Irvine III in the flesh while he pelts lead weights at your head.

How Do You Spot These People?

Don’t worry, they’ll make themselves known almost immediately.  They usually boast “thousands+” of dives (by which I mean 5,000 posts on scubaboard and about 50 actual REAL dives).   They will often boast about this fact when trying to assert their “SCUBA authority.”   When you talk to them in real life you’ll find they’ve maybe only been diving for about 3 or 4 years but they can’t remember which.  But let’s say they’ve been diving for 5 years. Half a decade of diving..Wow that certainly sounds impressive when you say it like that? Most of them do one or two trips a year or perhaps they haven’t been diving a year but they “used to” dive all the time but have just been “too busy to dive lately.”

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Let’s do some basic math.  Most people have a tendency to massively over inflate their dive count. It’s like the “rule of threes” in sexual partners. Men divide by 3 and women multiply by 3 to get their actual real number.  Well in diving it’s much easier; We simply divide the number by 3 to get their actual dive count.

If someone has been diving for 5 years and claims to have “thousands of dives” the numbers don’t usually add up. That’s ~200 dives a year in rain, sleet or snow every weekend on the clock without stopping. Not an impossible number by any means but if you’re living in Colorado or Kentucky, it’s going to be suspect unless you spend every weekend down at your local mud pit or lake and we know that’s not probable. People on the coasts have it easier but they don’t get a free hall pass either.

Even diving every other weekend in Florida you’re unlikely to hit those numbers.  There are 52 weekends in a year and two days in a weekend.    That means if you were to dive every weekend both Saturday and Sunday (2 dives a day),  2 dives x 2 days x 52 weekends = 208 dives.   Ok..Certainly possible but honestly most people do not dive every weekend or every day. You spend time with your family, go to other events, have other activities and hobbies, you get sick, the weather is bad, things get blown out.   But OK..let’s say you dive one day every weekend (2 dives x 1 day x 52 weekends), now you’re at 104 dives for the year.   That is not missing a SINGLE weekend for anything, bad weather, being sick, having other events to attend.

Even doing two dives for 1 day every week (104 dives) and doing 3 liveaboards a year (let’s say 4 dives x 6 days x 3 trips = 72 dives)   That is still under 200 dive a year..  176 x 5 years = 880 dives.

Simply stated unless you are retired or not working full time most people do not dive every day unless it’s actually their job.  If I happen to have gotten you all hot and bothered and you do actually hit these numbers then congratulations because you are not the type of person this post was meant for.  You might just like scuba diving! Holy shit.internet diver

Ten years ago it was the 50-dive DIR religious fundamentalist “quarry commandos” telling you how to dive however nowadays you’re more likely to encounter the evangelical sidemount fashionistas extolling the virtues of our lord and savior, sidemount.   Like the old DIR fundies dive-gods of years past (worse than religious fundamentalists really..) some of the nascent sidemount devotees can be just as annoying and preachy.  Ironically most of these people tend to burn themselves out after a few years when they don’t get the attention and fame they think they deserve and move onto more exciting hobbies like golf, synchronized swimming and amateur curling.  Where are these people now? Hint: not scuba diving.

You see I take an entirely different approach.  I know my skills are not perfect; I’m honest with myself. I know there are things that I need to improve on.  Things like my hose routing could use more work or maybe my valve shut downs are not as quick as I would like but I am working on improving them.  I set goals and limits for myself and I only exceed those limits when I feel comfortable.

This is funny coming from someone like me who does happen to post a lot on the Internet but I don’t spend all day on the internet mocking people because their trim is off or because I think their choice of scuba gear is wrong.  Horse collar, jacket BCD, plastic bag, donut wing, horseshoe wing, no wing; I really don’t care what you use.  I don’t comment on things that I have no personal or direct experience with.

My recommendation is to become a mentor to newer divers.  Give honest and real world feedback with specific examples, not petty insults to make yourself look better.  Not everyone wants unsolicited advice so tread carefully. Don’t belittle their certification agency or choice of instructor if it’s not the one you trained under.  You have no right to comment on someone’s supposed skills or abilities if you’ve actually never seen them in the water.

Shut up and go dive, do what works best for you but do it safely. Dive more and post less.

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2 Thoughts to “The legend of the internet diver”

  1. Pascal

    I just can’t stop laughing at this one: with the ghost of Sheck Exley

  2. Duane McCully

    Probably the funniest scuba related thing I have ever read. And, of course, it is so funny partly because it is very well written and partly because of how true it is. Nice work!

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