Monday, July 30, 2012

Letterboxing: an "intriguing" pastime

Disclaimer: rant ahead.
Intriguing.  Ugh.  I can even remember when I first learned about letterboxing reading that word, "intriguing".  Nearly put me off the hobby all together, actually.
Somewhere, sometime, in letterboxing's history, someone wrote these words: "Letterboxing is an intriguing pastime..." And this has been reproduced.  Everywhere.  And I hate it.  And so, if you are the unfortunate soul who first used this unfortunate word, please turn away and go to some other website.  You should definitely spare yourself the rant that follows.
I should first say that there is nothing wrong with the word "intrigue" or any of its deriviatives. I found my favourite television show to ever be produced, LOST, to be very intriguing. But the producers of LOST never themselves said, LOST is an intriguing show.  And in that context, I have no issue with the word "intriguing".
However, when I first learned about letterboxing, I googled it and first went to the LBNA website and read as follows: "Letterboxing is an intriguing pastime..."  Ugh.  It made my skin crawl.  The very site promoting/supporting/enabling letterboxing called itself intriguing. My, isn't that self-serving.
Isn't something being intriguing in the eye of the beholder, so to speak? Merriam-Webster says the definition of intriguing is: engaging the interest to a marked degree, or fascinating.  Well, aren't I fascinating?  If I wrote in this blog that "I am an intriguing woman", your first thought would probably be, "that's for me to decide!". You'd think that I am in no position to know whether that is true (and also, htat I am narcissistic). I feel the same is true of a institutional-style website, such as LBNA or AtlasQuest who hold themselves out as being the letterboxing community, stating that letterboxing is an intriguing hobby. 
Now, as a matter of fact, I do find letterboxing to be intriguing.  Not all aspects of it anymore - I now find certain clues to be fascinating - but the not the initial intrigue that drew me in in first place (I discussed this here). I have no issue with any individual letterboxing proclaiming loud and clear that they find letterboxing intriguing - they are outside, independant observers who are stating their personal opinion.
So why am I ranting? Because I hate that phrase.  Hate it.  I hate that potential boxers who are searching out this hobby read on various websites that,
  • "Letterboxing is an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a charming "treasure hunt" style outdoor quest." LBNA
  • "Letterboxing is an intriguing pastime combining artistic ability with "treasure-hunts" in parks, forests, and cities around the world."  AtlasQuest
And worse, these are further picked up and quoted all over the web when answering the question, "what is letterboxing?".
I have no doubt people will find letterboxing intriguing.  I hope they do, it's part of what gives magic to this hobby.  But can't we demonstrate the intrigue rather than self-servingly say that it is so?

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