We Were All N00bs Once

Published January 23, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I want to talk about n00bs today.  Or newbies.  Or greenhorns.  Or whatever you want to call people who are new to an idea, a concept, a community, a skill or job.

For those of you who don’t know what a n00b is, UrbanDictionary.com defines it as: A inexperienced and/or ignorant or unskilled person.  It originated in gaming culture but is now used to refer to any person who fits those criteria.

I had a bit of a rail at Twitter late last night after reading two different people making fun of n00bs, actually not just making fun, but directly hating on them.  Ridiculing them publicly, without giving direct identifying details, but anyone who knows the people or the circles they travel in could probably work it out pretty quickly.

It really makes me angry, because we are all n00bs at some point, repeatedly across our lives.  Every single one of us has times in our life that we are learning a new skill, job or concept.  In fact, those of us who aren’t regularly n00bs are the ones who are stagnant, dull and unchallenged.

In the context of Fat Acceptance, I see the general disdain of n00bs quite a bit.  Over at Not Blue at All, there was a very good podcast with Brenda and Julie of the Busty Traveller on how n00bs are received in the community.  Now of course, nobody is talking of the willfully ignorant, those who come in just to troll, or who don’t want to hear thoughts and concepts different to those that are the status quo.  We all have to deal with those, and yeah, sometimes anger and disdain are the only tools you have left to deal with those.  But so often people come in to Fat Acceptance with questions and don’t fully understand what it is we’re talking about.

Once upon a time, every one of us was that n00b.  Every one of us came from the world of mainstream thinking on fat, where fat = bad, or unhealthy, and that fat should be removed no matter the cost.  We bought the magazines, we watched the television shows and media, we listened to what doctors told us about needing to lose weight to cure our ailments.  But something brought us to Fat Acceptance.  We saw something that made us look twice, that made us ask questions, read more blogs.

For me it was photos on Tumblr.  I followed a link, I asked a question or two, I commented on a few blogs.  These things all led me to become a Fat Acceptance activist.  Sometimes along the way, I made some mistakes.  I didn’t understand things.  I blundered when I tried to describe how I was feeling.  I used the wrong language.  Sadly, when I was a n00b, some people shat all over me and tried to bully me out of speaking.  But thankfully, there were those who just answered my question, or posted links that would help me.  If they didn’t want to engage, they didn’t have to, but they recognised that sometimes people are just new and don’t get it yet, that if they keep doing what they do, then they’re encouraging those n00bs to keep reading and keep questioning and keep expanding their horizons.

Yes, sometimes people just want to argue, they just want to push, they just want to shout you down.  This week I dealt with one on Twitter who seemed to decide that I was going to be a good person to goad repeatedly into an argument, and I had to disengage.  Nothing wrong with that.  I did attempt to give him some information and make my point, but there came a point where he just wasn’t going to get it, he just wanted to be pedantic, so I made the decision to let go.

Sometimes you just arc up out of frustration, or you’re having a bad day, someone was just mean to you, or some other reason.  It happens to all of us.  It happens to me a lot.

Now I’m not saying that you have to educate every person that comes by your blog or Twitter or whatever.  I’m not saying you have to devote your time to hand feeding every new person to come along to Fat Acceptance or whatever other area you’re skilled/informed in.  But when someone asks a question, and does so without ad hominem attacks, ask yourself if it is a legitimate question.  If it is, consider answering it.  You don’t have to, but if you can, and have the time, maybe do so from time to time.  Don’t lecture, don’t bully, don’t talk down.  Just answer it.  If you don’t want to, don’t.  Or provide a link/resource.

Whether you respond or not, realise that every one of us is a n00b at some point and the fact that someone is exploring new concepts, ideas and skills is an awesome thing. Remember how it felt when you were the n00b.  Do you want to treat someone the way you were treated?  If you think it’s ok for you to hate on a n00b, then perhaps it’s time for you to stretch yourself a bit and be a n00b at something yourself before you get stagnant.

But most importantly, when you next encounter a n00b, think of this:

Raise your hand if you’ve never made a mistake/got it wrong in your life.

19 comments on “We Were All N00bs Once

  • …perhaps it’s time for you to stretch yourself a bit and be a n00b at something yourself before you get stagnant.

    *Raises hand.* I’m perfect, and I dare you to say otherwise, lol.

    But I’m also a n00b and I’ve realized that blogging about fat acceptance is the single most ‘stretching’ thing I’ve done lately.

    Great post!

  • I have a question that many of you probably see at super n00b:

    Is fat acceptance equal to complacency?

    Let me explain so that I don’t come off like a total jerk. I’m in my late twenties. As a young adult, I struggled with being slightly overweight (entangled with depression) and an eating disorder (especially from seeing my mother becoming anorexic). Eight years later, I have a ‘normal’ BMI, and I’m still losing weight – a few pounds each year – as I generally incorporate more intense exercise, build muscle, or learn how to cook more healthfully. I understand the awful struggle of feeling like my body is gross, or that others think my body is gross, and of thinking about food all of the time. I’m thankful that I have been able to reach a point where I appreciate what my body can do, and I am still working to every day to treat it better. Fighting my sweet tooth is hard! But again, I know I’m fortunate that my mental/emotional issues only lasted a few years.

    Loving my body was the first step in getting healthy – accepting what I had, what it could do even with extra chub – and then treating myself better. I’m all for ending dehumanization of fat people, but it seems to be insinuated on many fat acceptance blogs that many people are complacent – which is fine, if that is what you want – but does it have to be?

    • The best way to answer your question is to give you two links. The first, is my post from a few months back:

      https://fatheffalump.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/activism-is-never-resignation/

      And then the post that inspired me to write that post:

      http://mymilkspilt.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/acceptance-is-not-giving-up/

      Never assume that Fat Acceptance = inactivity, resignation or complacency. One of the biggest lessons I guess you can learn is that you cannot make assumptions about people’s lives by their bodies or appearance. You cannot know by measuring someone’s weight whether they are healthy or not, and you also can’t assume that all fat people have got that way by being “complacent” about their bodies. Many fat people suffer eating disorders, but as fat people they are not diagnosed as anorexic, because anorexic behaviours are approved by many for fat people. The old “Whatever it takes to lose the weight.”

      Another good resource is http://www.danceswithfat.com If you read her blog, you’ll learn more than I can teach you in a lifetime.

      Most importantly, you have to remember that no two people are alike, fat, thin or otherwise and all deserve to be heard for their experiences, not what people assume are their experiences.

  • I totally understand what being a noob is like and being pounced on for it. My comment is kind of off topic but I’d like to know what you think:

    [comment/question redacted]

    • Des, I have deleted the bulk of your comment. This is because it’s not any of my business or do I have any business giving advice on a personal situation/allegations you have made against another person. I am only to happy to answer questions about Fat Acceptance/activism but to ask me to give advice on allegations about another person is very poor form.

  • sleepydumpling,

    thank you for your kind and thorough response. your post helped me understand this movement, and i’ve been thinking about the tenets as i go about my daily business.

    i think i am becoming a better person.

    thanks.

  • *raises hand* I’m totally a n00b. Despite the fact that I blog and I think I know what i’m talking about- most of the time anyway- i realize that I still have a lot to learn.. and i mean a ton. I only recently read a blog by The Fat Nutritionist that helped me *really* understand HAES and set weight points and, hell, i’m still not even sure I’ve got it.

    I may not be a n00b in the way you’re describing- the way I was the first time I picked up a FA book- but I think there are stages of n00b. I’m past the first stage but still far far from being experienced in the subject. People do tend to take questions too personally- I’ve always seem them as a chance to inform (not just about FA but about a lot of issues including my beliefs, ethics, sexual orientation, etc). Just calling someone an idiot and telling people it’s rude to ask questions doesn’t accomplish anything (except making people afraid to question.. and that’s the problem in the first place, isn’t it?)

    thanks for this post

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