We’ve talked about how many people try to gatekeep home theater. But that is only half the equation. We don’t want to keep people out of the home theater hobby, but to actively draw them in. But how? Well, we’ve got some ideas.
Don’t Be An A**Hole
It should go without saying, but if you want to draw people into the home theater hobby, you should be welcoming. There are far too many people out there who seem to get their entire self-worth from correcting others. It doesn’t matter if they are nitpicking terminology or just being pedantic. If they can find a way to correct you, they will.
No one likes that person, You aren’t really being all that helpful. Plus, there are ways of doing the same thing without making others feel stupid. Using the correct terminology when answering a question without pointing out their misuse will get your point across just as well. I hate to bring up the Golden Rule, but I will. Talk to others the way you’d like to be spoken to. It’ll do a lot to draw more people into home theater.
More than anything, people want to be told that their gear is good. If they are asking about your gear, what they are really saying is that they want to tell you about theirs. That’s human nature. Remember that and skim over your gear when they ask so that they can tell you about their system.
And then compliment them.
No, it doesn’t matter what gear they own. It doesn’t matter if it is 20 years old and well-known overpriced junk. You aren’t comparing their gear to all the equipment out there. You are comparing it to most people’s systems. What do most people have?
Nothing. You are comparing their gear to nothing. Even if you are bad at math you can puzzle out that something is better than nothing. Complimenting their system is a surefire way to let them know that the home theater hobby is somewhere they want to be. They can feel comfortable knowing that they won’t be judged or looked down on just because they don’t have “the best.”
Lead by Example
“But,” you say, “Their gear objectively isn’t great. It is better than nothing, sure. But not much.”
I get it. Your natural tendency is to want to help them improve their system. Now ask yourself: How do you like to receive “constructive criticism?” Unsolicited or after you ask for help?
Unsolicited advice (often called “mansplaining”) is nearly always received negatively. No one appreciates someone, friend or stranger, giving them advice out of the blue. No matter how good the advice, or how softly you think you can deliver it, just don’t.
Instead, lead by example. If you want to draw more people into the home theater hobby, don’t tell people what to do, but show them. Invite them over to hear your system. Make a plan to go to local Hi-Fi stores and listen to high-end systems. Don’t give advice, give experiences that lead people to ask questions.
Answer Questions Without Judgement
People hate to feel stupid. When you are new to a hobby and are around people that are more experienced, you immediately feel dumb. Because you are. All it takes is one person to giggle or have a quizzical look on their face to reinforce that feeling. That’s the last time they’ll ask a question!
We’ve all been novices. No one starts out as an expert in any field. It may have been so long ago that you can barely remember the feeling, but you once felt insecure and shy about the hobby you love so much. If you want to draw more people into home theater, you need to be someone they can talk to about the hobby. The only way people are going to feel comfortable doing that is if you answer their questions without judgment.
Let Them Come to Their Own Conclusions
Part of the fun of getting interested in a new hobby is learning. Sure, you could decide to want to get a home theater and go to a store and buy the best of everything and get it installed. But where is the fun in that? If you’ve ever been in a theater like that, those people don’t understand or value what they bought. Sure, they know it is good, but they can barely use it, much less appreciate it.
You could tell someone what to buy and they’d probably end up with a great system. But are you allowing them to have the same fun you had when you shopped for gear? Instead of telling them what to buy, let them make those decisions. If they ask for help, surely give them suggestions. But rather than just say “these are the speakers for you,” list some options. Let them listen for themselves and decide what sounds best to their ears. Remember, what sounds good in your room might not sound good in theirs.
Much of the fun of a hobby is doing things together. If you are into CrossFit, it isn’t about finding the “perfect” workout and telling everyone that their workouts are wrong (or maybe it is, I don’t know how CrossFit works). Even if you are in a more solitary hobby, part of the fun is talking about it with others. You may find it grand to go on a diatribe about how your speakers are the best but no one else is having any fun. We draw people into home theater by sharing knowledge (when asked), being respectful, and helping people on their own journeys. That way they can have the same fun you did when you first started experiencing home theater.
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