The Strange Phenomenon of Virtual Social Pipe-Smoking

Hard to believe it’s been six years since I last posted an article on this blog…

I blame it on YouTube. It is so much easier to swipe on your smart phone camera, record something about your pipe and tobacco and whatever other thoughts come to mind, do a little editing and upload it knowing that a larger number of folks will take a gander at your video and leave a comment within a much shorter period of time than the number of those who will ever get around to reading and commenting on your blog post. It’s obvious that for most people watching videos is more fun than reading is. Making videos is also more fun. Moreover, the video-maker more often than not gets to audio-visually interact with other pipe-smoking YouTube creators, making it seemingly more personal. (Indeed, there is at least one, that I know of, legally blind pipester who creates YouTube videos.) In contrast, writing simply takes more intellectual effort. It also doesn’t feel as personal of a connection as does video, as far as I sense it, anyway. So, I got lost in the YouTube Pipe Community (YTPC) and couldn’t find my way back to the blog until now.

There is a strange phenomenon I discovered along the way…

Although we pipe-smokers enjoy our quiet time with a favorite tobacco, we’re also inclined to want to enjoy a bowl or two with other pipe enthusiasts. We like to share notes, show our collections, make trades–as it is with any hobby. Although some of us like to take part in pipe clubs that meetup periodically in person, quite a few of us either don’t have that luxury or find it more to our liking to simply interact through online discussion boards or by posting product reviews on Tobacco Reviews or pipe and tobacco sellers’ websites. Another social option pipe and tobacco hobbyists pursue is to join in with the YTPC.

What I find compelling about participating on a video platform is that when I smoke a bowl on camera, I feel like I’m not smoking alone, but smoking along with whomever might be watching the video. Likewise, when I watch other YTPC creators’ content–even though I might not have lit up, none the less, somehow I feel like I’m sharing a bowl right along with them. This sense of participation seems to me to be the strangest thing. And is, no doubt, a primary reason I’ve returned to virtual social pipe-smoking. You see, not only did I drift away from this blog, but I also left YTPC a few years back, deleting all of my content.

Leaving and returning…

I had come upon a health concern regarding my vision, because of which, my ophthalmologist recommended I give up all nicotine products. So I did. Feeling hypocritical that I had given up pipes, cigars and the occasional snuff while maintaining a channel about such activities, I closed my SoCal Pipester channel. As things turn out, my condition is not as serious as first suspected, so of course, I couldn’t help myself but to little by little indulge in a bit of relaxation by way of pipe and tobacco. I even found myself buying the odd pipe here and there to provide some solace during times of feeling down. Soon I was looking up YTPC videos. And here I am. I do not see my return as a stumbling, but as a sign of recovery–and I want to share it, by golly!

The YTPC phenomenon that lured me away from my blog those years ago has, in some odd way, brought me back to it. Vlogging and blogging are complimentary efforts, I believe. And so here we are.

Hello, pipe-smokers of the world. Care to join me for a little virtual social pipe-smoking? Strange, though it may be?

Adventures in Pipe Smoking Video Community

vid cam pic I’ve finally entered the tobacco pipe smoking video community on Vimeo.

Am I crazy?

So for the last few months, I’ve bounced back and forth between whether I should write a post about my “new discovery” of Mac Baren tobaccos or make a video about it, both of which I’ve haltingly started and stopped. Due to a bit of paralysis-by-analysis with a little extenuating circumstance thrown in,  I’ve yet to complete either; however, what I have done is this… I’ve entered the Vimeo video pipe-smoking community by presenting a brief introductory video (about myself, and which also took a few trials before completion).

But I’ve got to ask…

Is it strange to engage with persons unknown within a virtual community via video, watching each other smoke a pipe and talk about tobacco?

Does video make it legitimately more personal than the written word, or does it simply add a voyeuristic dynamic? (Within a pipe-smoking context, mind you.)

There is some kind of vicarious satisfaction in it beyond its educational value and the sense of belonging to a brother-sisterhood of pipesters, I have to admit — almost like I don’t need to light up a bowl now, myself.

It’s been about six or seven months that I’ve been viewing YouTube videos by tobacco pipe hobbyists. In today’s anti-tobacco climate and with pipe smokers being an almost counter-cultural anomaly, their videos have undoubtedly helped me get a handle on what pipe-smoking folks, as well as the pipe and tobacco industries, are up to. There are blogs and forums, of course. But let’s face it, once you get the few technical steps down that are required to record and upload a video, it can be a bit less intellectually trying, yet potentially more entertaining, to present a video than it is to write a post or engage in meaningful dialogue in a forum. [And to be candid, many of the conversations within forums (or fora) I’ve happened into are anything but meaningful.]

So I thought, what the heck, I’m kind of itching to make a video or two, myself, so why not give it a whirl and see about “giving back” to the community that has given to me.

I chose to go with Vimeo for two reasons…

First, It’s a way to get away from Google’s penchant for master controlled integration of one’s content across platforms.

Second, because the Vimeo pipester community is young compared to YouTube’s, my participation will hopefully be more akin to helping to build the Vimeo community houseboat, rather than jumping aboard an already creaking old ship with its crotchety old characters claiming primacy of place.

(A bit cynical over some of what I’ve observed, am I?)

Anyway, I’m hoping my videos do bring something to the table.

My introduction video is available for viewing only by those whom I follow on Vimeo, but the rest will be open to all. I’ll be posting them here, as well.

If you have a Vimeo channel, please let me know so I can follow you.

Here’s my channel…

Happy watching.

Oh yeah, I will get that Mac Baren video out real soon…