Monday, September 12, 2011

Victim Mentality

I'd been emailing with a potential client about a custom track planning project for a while. His vision was for a freelanced layout with a bit of everything, to be built with Kato Unitrack. No specific theme except to have fun and explore the hobby. So far, so good.

But then he began to have second thoughts. Basically his worries came about because he had "heard" that nitpickers and prototype modelers "don't like freelanced layouts or click track" and he didn't want to be criticized. Where had he "heard" that? Internet forums, of course.

Yes, the "Nitpickers pushed me down and took my lunch money" meme is alive and thriving on the Internet.

And pretty much only there.

Many of those posting about the "mean old nitpickers" have themselves never completed any layout, prototype or freelance, generic or specific. But they rave on about the sinister layout police who savage layout owners for failing to live up to some unwritten set of rules.

I recognize that playing the victim has powerful appeal in today's society. In model railroading, it helps some excuse years of inaction. It helps others gain some Internet fame and notoriety (trivial and childish as it is) through hundreds (or thousands) of whining posts.

And it's pretty much totally false.

In fact, I've seen just the opposite first hand multiple times. On one specific occasion I remember from years ago, I happened to be on a layout tour with some very well-known and highly-skilled prototype modelers. One of the layouts on the tour was a freelanced design built with Atlas SnapTrack. To be honest, the layout didn't offer much in visual appeal or operating interest to most, though it suited the owner's interests. But the experienced modelers visiting still took a few minutes to offer a couple of thoughts and thank the owner for being open.

No, the experienced folks didn't spend an hour there and I'm sure it wasn't their favorite layout of the day. But they were courteous, respectful and pleasant. Just as 99% of modelers would be.

The "evil nitpickers" rants on the Internet have done much more harm to potential layout builders than have any actual nitpickers. So forum trolls, please. I recognize that it’s asking way too much for you to be accurate or knowledgeable. But maybe you could at least some up with something fresh.

[By the way, the fellow I was emailing with went forward with the design project, actually built it with Unitrack, and is having a great time. Meanwhile, the forum trolls are … not.]