I started geocaching in 2008. This was before the boom, but after the game had been around for a while. Though I wish I had come into the game a lot earlier, I was happy with the time I got into it.
The game itself really is marvelous.
Think about it – somebody hides something in the woods (or elsewhere) and gives you the chance to go find it by posting coordinates on a website. You get the coordinates, put them in your GPS and go find said container. Inside might be some swag where you could trade but, at worst, you sign the log with your trail name and then go back and log it online, if you wish.
It’s a nice, simple game to get you outside and enjoying nature.
But when things grow and expand and such, it’s not always for the better.
In the time that I’ve been involved with geocaching, I’ve seen it get to a level where the rage is smartphones to cache with (I admit, yes, I cache with my iPhone, but I also use my GPS), and where it’s grown to massive numbers.
When I started, it was usually bigger containers and some adventures. Now, micro containers are the main thing, and it seems like more people start and stop geocaching faster than it takes some people to find their first 10 caches.
But what really happens when all of this occurs is the clashing of personalities.
Our area has had its ups and downs when it comes to geocaching. There are times when it seems like people can and can’t get along and that’s normal – we’re all humans, after all. But I would hope most differences can be put aside over time. I would think we all at least know how to be cordial with one another, or so it would seem.
But as things grow in the world of technology, so do the things people use each day (social media etc.), which means there’s more forums for games such as geocaching. There are groups and all set up for different aspects of the game.
And that’s where it gets dicey.
You see, geocaching is a game. There are NO winners and losers. There are NO prizes for the most finds or hides. There are NO paychecks. There are also NO true rules, rather guidelines set up by the main group running this game – geocaching.com.
So, in turn, that means there’s NO way to cheat.
It’s always been said that individuals geocache the way they see fit. Are there some “rules” that are basic? Absolutely. Find the cache. Sign the log. Replaced the cache.
Those three are pretty dead-on.
That becomes different when doing things like virtuals and Earthcaches etc., because there are no physical containers and logs. Instead, there are other requirements, like photos, answering questions etc.
The issue here is those who don’t actually do the things they are supposed to, or “cheat” to log geocaches.
Why do that, some may ask? After all, the main point of geocaching is to get you out for an adventure and take you somewhere cool.
And I agree with that. In fact, I can say if it wasn’t for geocaching, I wouldn’t have seen or gone to many places I’ve been to because of the game. State parks, different states, and things like that. I’ve found fantastic places to eat while out and about. I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people. It’s been great.
But I don’t worry about what they do when it comes to finds.
Here’s the reality – I love statistics and numbers (remember, I’m a baseball guy), so I love seeing stats and stuff for geocaching. I like knowing how many finds I have, how many I didn’t, how many of this kind etc. I like knowing what my best day is, how many miles I’ve traveled and where I’ve cached.
Love all that.
But I love it for me – not anybody else. I don’t care if people have more finds than me. I could care less if they have more FTFs, been to more states or countries, or have placed more. In fact, good for them because hopefully that means they’ve had the chance to see more!
But, in all reality, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because I won’t get anything in the end if I am “competing.”
So I don’t care if somebody wants to “cheat.”
Recently, I saw a post in one of these Facebook groups ridiculing a couple of Europeans who were apparently vacationing in America. They logged a virtual where they had to climb a mountain and posted photos. The photos were obviously photoshopped and didn’t look convincing at all.
The venom that followed was crazy.
Cheaters! All of their finds were now “in question” according to this jury.
If somebody feels the need to spend the time it takes to try and make a photo look convincing just to log a virtual, then whatever. It’s up to the cache owner (if they are still active) to deal with it, not a bunch of people on Facebook thinking they are the morality police.
I can somewhat see the point by some people who have made that hike. I get it. They did the work and earned that smiley, while the others didn’t (so we think. Maybe they did it, forgot to take a photo and thought they needed to do this? Probably not, but we never know). But some people, who had never made the hike were up in arms. Is it really worth posting the photo all over to ridicule them?
I didn’t see the dates these people who had the pitch forks started geocaching, but it makes me wonder.
The new generation of geocachers are quicker to judge, at least in my dealings. But it’s society now. See something you don’t like? Call people out on Facebook (or some other spot).
Look, I get the argument on both sides. Is it annoying that people do this? Sure. But in the end, it really does nothing. Ignore it and move on. Well, the only time I would agree with this is when there’s a cache with several DNFs over a larger period of time and all of a sudden somebody finds it with an “easy” or something like that. If they are in a situation where they are armchair logging, then in the end that could have an affect on somebody else’s game as they might go try and find it and it might not be there. In that case, I am with others in that it’s an issue because it could make somebody else’s experience negative.
And heck, I’ve matched signatures in the logs of my caches with online logs sometimes … they don’t always match. But I try and give the benefit of the doubt and laugh it off.
In the end, one thing we have to remember is geocaching is a game. It’s not a competition. It’s definitely not a sport as many call it. It’s a game. A hobby. Something people should enjoy doing. If you are worrying too much about how others play the game then you aren’t playing the game well enough yourself. Go find some geocaches. If others want to be “cheap” and armchair things, many will know they are doing it. But it’s just a game. Do it your way and know you are doing it right.
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