The 20 Questions post sparked the interest of Simon Dunkley who wrote his own response to them. Simon’s post was picked up by Chris Mears, who so thoughtfully added to the discussion (thank you so much Chris, I love your observations) and Trevor Marshall also commented on both of their posts and added his own commentary.
I’d like to say I left those questions open-ended and ambiguous so that readers wouldn’t be influenced by my own bias. In truth, they were more of an off-the-cuff brain dump that I figured most readers would just ignore.
The premise statement that model railroading is not fun was meant to serve as the catalyst. By stating the opposite of such a well entrenched concept, I hoped people might stop and think. Some did while others simply defended the status quo. Chris, Simon and Trevor did exactly as I hoped people would; use the questions as a way to examine their personal assumptions and approach.
I’ve been questioning many things about this hobby for years. As a result, I’ve formed a clearly defined point of view that goes against the grain of mainstream hobby thinking. I fully agree with thoughts offered by Trevor, Simon and Chris and many others regarding the ambiguous and generic nature of the word fun. I too feel it’s a poor choice.
Is this a hobby culture any of us really want?
We toss words around in this hobby without a second thought to the impact they have and, the nature of online writing only amplifies the potential for misunderstanding. Words carry meaning and they help define ideas in powerful ways. Used carelessly, they divide and even destroy.
One such example is the word elitist.
As used by some hobbyists, it’s a word designed to intimidate and shame others for doing things differently. I don’t know how or why the term even applies in the context of a recreational pastime. Simply put it’s the moronic tactic of a bully.
A recent thread on the Model Railroad Hobbyist Forum initiated by Joe Fugate, asked whether his readers felt MRH was elitist in tone. The responses number over two hundred now and as you might expect, most felt that MRH is not elitist. But it didn’t stop there and soon drifted far from the original topic into the typical bash fest on whatever and whomever a poster didn’t like.
I ask here as I did on the MRH forum, if I chose to hand lay my track, model a particular theme, or bring my best efforts to the work for my own personal satisfaction, how does that offend anyone? Truly?
In the past I’ve been branded as an elitist due to my viewpoints and the fact I work with finescale standards. My response now to such empty allegations is so what? Now if I act and speak like a pompous ass it would be understandable. I’ve done that too often and deserved what I got in return. Yet, the question is still valid: so what, who cares? Why do I care? There’s an answer. People won’t like it but I think it fits.
Mine, yours, everybody’s, and there’s no place for any of them in a hobby built on the freedom of personal choice. Why do any of us think we have the right to make unkind comments of any sort? (Yes, I’m looking in the metaphorical mirror right now.) Has the hobby simply devolved to this point, or are we reaping the harvest from seeds we’ve all sown?
If we are, is this a hobby culture any of us really want to be a part of? I don’t.
I don’t have to like 3-rail modeling, five-foot gauge, continuous running, big layouts or any other aspect of model railroading that doesn’t speak to me personally. I don’t have to agree with people who take a laid back, good enough (whatever that means) approach to their modeling standards, even as I push my own toward increasing levels of accomplishment. I no longer read Model Railroader, RMC, The NG&SL Gazette or MRH because I don’t find them relevant to my interests now, even though others depend on them as sources of valuable information and inspiration.
My views and this blog favor excellence in modeling and craftsmanship. I’m an advocate for a smaller simpler layout, of using finescale standards and of using this craft as a practice and means of self-motivated learning because they’re all immensely satisfying and fulfilling to me.
As a writer and publisher I’m not going to change the larger culture one iota. What I can do is present a different approach to the craft while taking full responsibility for my own words and attitude, and understand that those words impact the lives of others. I wish you all well.