Living out away from civilization does the introvert soul well, but as a pipe smoker, it admittedly has its disadvantages. Granted, I can smoke my pipe where I want and not have to hear any complaints, but there’s also a dearth of fellow pipe smokers in the neighborhood to chat with in person. Of course, you could live in a city where you never see any other pipe smokers, so that’s out of our control. However, most cities and suburbs have a brick and mortar tobacconist, which offers a better chance at meeting someone smoking a pipe. Even then, if the tobacconist focuses almost completely on cigars, then the pipe smoker is out of luck.
Now, where I live, there are good tobacconists that have nice pipe selections, but they’re all at least an hour away in different directions. Unless I feel like driving an hour each way just for the chance to maybe run into one of those rare pipe smokers, I’m stuck here at home with no one to chat with about pipes.
I have to confess sometimes I look back and pine for the past, when pipe smoking was a more universal hobby. You’d have a greater chance of meeting other pipe smokers and share in the community. Then again, the way we approach our hobby is different than how things were done in the past. Pipe smoking was a way of life, and most pipe smokers picked a favorite blend and smoked it in one of their handful pipes. With pipe smoking being the world of eccentrics and hobbyists today, our enthusiasm would contrast severely with the codgers of old.
It goes against my curmudgeonly pipe smoking ways, but I think I’d rather be a pipe smoker today than one from yesteryear. As much as I hate to admit it, the internet has done a world of good for pipe smokers. The little computer screens might be rotting our brains, but at least we’re having them rot together.
See, we can be the only pipe smoker in a 100-mile radius and still be part of the pipe smoking community at large. Sure, we don’t have a buddy sitting next to us, puffing our pipes together while chatting about our favorite blends, but with web forums and social media, we have countless fellow pipe smokers sitting with us in spirit.
I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve smoked my pipe with a fellow pipe smoker in person outside of a pipe club or show. Yet every night I smoke my pipe, I’m chatting about it with people from all around the world. Heck, every week I record a podcast with Dave from the Maple City PipeCast while we smoke our pipes. Those are better odds than traveling to my closest brick and mortar. I can tweet out a blend I’m smoking, or post about it on the ThisPipeLife forums, and get into a conversation with multiple people about the tobacco and hear what they think of it.
Thanks to the internet, I’ve made countless friends with pipe smokers from all around the world. Almost all of my friends don’t even live in the same state as I do, and without the internet, I wouldn’t have these friendships. From Montana, to New Jersey, to Oregon, Canada, England, and so on, I’m surrounded by like-minded souls who enjoy the briar and leaf.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve truly come to appreciate the power that social media has to bring pipe smokers together. In contrast, it seems as if social media is dividing people further and further away over their differences. Yet in the pipe smoking community, I only see pipers sharing their love of pipes and tobacco, and encouraging each other when they need an ear to listen. I’ll go so far as to say the pipe smoking community is the best community out there on the internet. For all of our differences and diverse backgrounds, pipes and tobacco are the glue that brings us together to find common ground. Some of us might get into squabbles, but in the end we all can go back to our pipes.
If you’re reading this, and you’re not plugged into a pipe smoking forum or group on social media, I mean it with all sincerity that you’re missing out of the greatest and largest pipe club in the world. You don’t have to be an island, smoking your pipe alone with no one to share the experience with after a long day. So ignore the curmudgeon side of yourself and find a place to join and share your knowledge and experiences. Sure, you might not like everyone, or enjoy every community out there, but if you take the time to look, there’s a place to call your own.
You’ll be glad you did.
Until next time, happy puffing my friends,