Divide & Conquer
If there ever was a time for car owners within the different automotive niches to co-exist and stand as a united scene again the greater public, that time is now. Like it or not, the car scene is shrinking at an alarming rate.
I’d be happy for an old timer to correct me, but I can’t remember reading about a world so against the very things that we love.
Environmental lobbyists are keen to point out the devastation to the planet has everything to do with the vehicle pollution people in cities see, and nothing to do with the deforestation, mining, dredging and industrial farming that’s slightly less visible.
The future of fully and semi-autonomous cars taking precedent over human-driven cars is much closer than those outside of the industry could ever imagine.
Even as I type this, local government authorities scramble to build the legislation and infrastructure to accommodate this brave new world. Meanwhile, tech giants and automotive manufacturers wage war behind the scenes that will ultimately reshape how humans view and use personal transport for infinitum.
If you think I’m being overly dramatic, let me tell you that I’ve just spent the last week walking in and out of training sessions, learning how to use driving robots that will be used to verify how well the first wave of these semi-autonomous systems work in cars being sold today. A dire outcome, but expected when our road-using fleet has the personality of toasters. Beige toasters. I’d rather not test my loyalties by being given a choice between piloting a beige toaster or taking duck-faced selfies while playing Angry Birds in my automated drone.
Autonomous or not, the vast majority of modern cars lack character. They might be more reliable, economical and safer than ever, but boy are they dull. Of course, there are fun exceptions to the rule, but with manufacturers charging us for the privilege of a fun ride, it’s a sought out experience, and not something average punters stumble across and get hooked on.
Dear carmakers, if the driver experience of your latest product is so sterile that it requires fitting a lane departure detection unit to keep drivers awake, perhaps it’s also worth engineering a little more enjoyment into the experience.
While other manufacturers pave the way to their demise by making vehicles simpler, safer, and more intuitive, Toyota has responded by making driving more engaging and rewarding again. They’ve even managed to inject fun and character into the previously Granma-spec Camry. Who’d have thought?
They understand that the long-term battle against Apple’s iCar and the Google Transitsnooze will require forcing users to choose between an exciting and engaging experience, or being ferried around like semi-sleeping cattle between tasks.
On top of the longer term issues, we’re forced to justify our passion for motoring to the masses, who are often informed by media outlets that speak the political agenda of whoever it is they serve. Be it a nanny state that’s playing cotton-wool protector, or a police state looking for soft targets to demonstrate their power and promote fear in the wider public.
However you choose to look at it, we as motoring enthusiasts are under an unprecedented level of public scrutiny, and there is a tremendous amount of pressure coming from all sides that would prefer people like us didn’t exist.
As the outcasts of the global community with a growing number of unfavourable influences looming on the horizon, doesn’t it make more sense for us to band together, rather than trying to score cheap points when somebody has a slightly different approach or sense of appreciation?
I mean really, how different is a Civic to a Camaro? Plenty, right? Unless you zoom out a little further and you’re comparing both to an iPhone, a cat or any other time vampire. It’s all relative to what you’ve got to compare.
As a human, I too hate being wrong. Especially in public (although reading Speedhunters replies has thickened my skin substantially). I think it’s this fear that stops people from achieving a high number of things. A mate of mine today brought this same idea up. Imagine if Leonardo da Vinci shared some of his thoughts online? Would he have followed through with genius or taken up knitting instead and left us without his brilliance? What marvelous ideas have we missed out on due to lurking trolls?
The next time you feel the urge to share your own ‘expert opinion’, stop and ask yourself why? Are you frustrated? Are you jealous? Are you trying to impress a crowd that most likely doesn’t care for your input?
Are you content knowing that you are in a tiny way helping to destroy an already fractured car scene? But seriously, if you’re not helping, move along quietly.
Pettiness seems to rule supreme within online car communities, but really, it’s just the lazy option and a weapon of the weak.
Perhaps it’s time for a change. A change for the better. Rather than relaxing within the temporary safety of inaction, the next time you see somebody acting out of line and potentially weakening our fragile world, don’t ask what they should or could have done better. Ask them what they have done better? Followed up with why they think their ideas are more important than others.
It’s never made sense to me that so much hate exists in our hobby, in our escape from the problems and hatred of the real world.
Don’t mistake this story as a plea to like absolutely everything you see, or even to expand your horizons. It’s not about that. We each resonate with different aspects of our culture, and that’s fine. No, I’m merely pointing out that our lack of respect within our broader community weakens ourselves, making it even easier for the wolves to pick us off quicker, one by one.
It’s a shame that this completely self-indulgent behaviour isn’t just accepted, but often expected within our world. But that doesn’t mean it has to be accepted or expected in the future. Remember that today’s actions are tomorrow’s echoes.
The next time you’re on the receiving end of a slathering of irrational hatred from within our scene, give yourself a pat on the back or shout yourself an extra beverage. Because if you have achieved enough to get a stranger all riled up, you know that you’ve at least achieved more than one person during that day.