'Age', 'Experience' and 'Skill' Are Not Synonyms
Here’s a short story for you. Someone young (let’s say 25) writes about something that they know a lot and feel passionately about. Their writing is very extensive, comprehensive, and well done, but someone mentions to them that they shouldn’t be writing because they don’t have enough experience or because they are so young. Do you see the same problem here that I do?
I see this a lot within the kink community. Older members of the community are admired and respected while younger members are expected to seek out guidance from these people. Now, I’m not saying that there is a problem with learning from someone older, in fact, I’ve found it to be one of the best ways to learn new skills and seek advice on problems, but age has little to do with this. Many people seek training from someone that has been doing something longer rather than someone newer but that has more skill.
In the kink community there is a debate (that has been ongoing for years) about the validity of TNG (The Next Generation) groups. For those of you reading that don’t know, TNG groups are groups of kinky people, usually under the age of 35, but there is some variation, that get together to hang out, share knowledge, and have a good time. One of the biggest argument against these groups is the question: “How can they learn anything if they’re all so young?”
Here’s my answer: “There is a difference between age, experience, and skill. Think about a child piano prodigy (yes, I’m using an extreme example). The child, by definition is not very old and based on his/her age can’t be very experienced, but who would doubt that s/he is skilled when they hear him/her play?
Now think about an older person, perhaps about 40 years old that has been in the community since they turned 18 that has a particular interest in flogging but has never attended a class to learn technique and has been using the same style on their partner for 22 years. Clearly, they are experienced, but would you say that they are skilled?
They might be or they might not be. Many people can practice something for a long time and never be outstanding at it and there are some people who practice something for a short period of time, let’s say a year, but invest large amounts of energy practicing their techniques and learning new techniques by taking classes, doing research, and above all practicing using proper techniques. Is this person skilled?
Have you ever heard the old adage “practice makes perfect”? I’m sure you have. It’s told to every child trying to learn something new, but that adage is a lie. Anyone who has studied a technique in depth knows that the true adage is actually “practice makes permanent”. If you practice something a thousand times, incorrectly, you’re always going to do it incorrectly. The same goes for the people that are experienced. Just because they’ve done something a thousand times, doesn’t mean they have been doing it correctly.
It is wonderful when you find someone that is experienced, skilled, and has some age on their side. They can be an outstanding resource but they aren’t the only possible resource. You shouldn’t discount a source of information simply because they are young or new and you shouldn’t believe everything that you’re told simply because someone is experienced or older. Everyone has something that they can share with others.