As a board member since 2014, I spend a lot of time thinking about our Association, our history, and what makes us unique as a training agency. The tenets of our credo, the “loved one” concept, academic freedom, ability to safely exceed standards, and an association of equals controlled by the democratic process are among our most cherished values that set us apart. Our bylaws guide not only the organizational structure of NAUI, but the strictures on us as members; how we comport ourselves, how we represent the association, and how we hold ourselves accountable are all burned into this document. Being a NAUI member is a source of pride, and while there are always competitive threats from without, our common NAUI values mean that despite our disagreements, we defend NAUI and our way of doing business. It’s who we are.
New technologies bring new ways of expressing ourselves, and the speed with which information is exchanged is unmeasurably faster now than when our bylaws were conceived. While they still apply today and have even undergone recent rewrites, we as members need to seriously consider the business impact of technological platforms that we now take for granted. Whereas just over a decade ago the internet was clearly present and significant, the advent and proliferation of social platforms have had the effect of making the world considerably smaller in the intervening years.
Based on small bits of information, viral tweets or posts on social platforms can wreak havoc on a company’s reputation and its economic viability, regardless of their veracity. Stock prices climb and fall on such things. This is why it’s more important than ever to be mindful of how we interact on these platforms, how we represent ourselves, and how we represent NAUI. We are not a monolithic corporation like other training agencies. We are, in effect, the owners of our training agency, and, as such, we must do everything in our power to protect it and, in so doing, protect our businesses and livelihoods. Everything we say, everything we post can be interpreted as representative of everything we’re involved in. I’ve known people who have been denied or removed from employment based upon their interactions on social media. This is something we all need to take very seriously, not only for our own businesses, but for NAUI as well.
When new and prospective members see acrimonious exchanges between NAUI members on social media, it can have a serious negative impact. There’s no such thing as a “private” group online that’s truly private; anything on the internet can be shared. We as members must be mindful of this and hold ourselves accountable to make sure we disagree in the most respectful ways possible. No one will do this for us, it’s up to each of us.
As excerpted from the NAUI Bylaws:
NAUI Instructors, by virtue of their voluntary membership in NAUI, recognize a responsibility and obligation to promote the Association and support the official decisions and policies of the Association. In fulfilling this obligation to the Association, the NAUI Instructor shall:
- Publicly support NAUI as an association.
- Make every effort to bring about necessary changes in a professional manner by direct personal contact with those fellow members who are in positions of authority and responsibility.
Democracy can be colorful; passions and emotions have the ability to overrule our better natures. Being behind a keyboard can make us bolder than we otherwise would be when standing face to face. It’s important we consider all of this when participating in debate and discussions online; a good old-fashioned analog stroll away from the keyboard when things are getting heated is often the best solution for letting cooler heads prevail. As they say, “discretion is the better part of valor,” and always keep in mind that there are human beings on the other end of that discussion, ones with opinions, feelings, and passions equal to your own.
Let’s all keep in front of mind that NAUI’s success contributes to each of our own, and work together to make sure we maintain and grow NAUI’s reputation for the best trained divers and highest quality education in the industry.
We are working on providing better ways for members to communicate with each other and with board members to streamline feedback and vet ideas in the most effective ways possible. In order to function in this era of light speed information exchange, we must adapt so we can react with alacrity and purpose. Stay tuned for those in the coming months.
I have and always will be welcoming of your ideas and feedback. It is one of the great privileges of my life to serve loyal NAUI members on this board. If you have thoughts or other feedback, please feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.