I seriously don’t get the desire of hobbyists to have utter loyalty to the source of their hobbydom, even when that source is really screwing up. I see this kind of fanatical devotion in a lot of hobbies, in fact, maybe in all hobbies, where people think they somehow owe it to companies or organizations to overlook their shortcomings, even when they have nothing but criticism for those shortcomings.
Case in point, as everyone knows, I collect stamps. I have been highly critical of the number of stamps the United States Postal Service releases every year, it’s an absurd amount and increasing year after year, specifically to sell more stamps to collectors. There was a time when you could buy an entire year’s output of stamps, adjusted for inflation, for a few bucks. Today, it’s a few hundred dollars. There’s no reason for it, other than to screw the collector. So in 1993, I opted out. I no longer collect new issues of U.S. stamps and have never regretted that decision. However, holy shit, you tell most U.S. collectors that you’re not buying everything the USPS puts out and they are aghast. How dare I not support them to my very last dollar! In fact, when I tell people that I hardly send anything through the mails, I get criticized for sending the USPS spiraling down into bankruptcy. Sorry, their mismanagement is not my problem and since I couldn’t care less what stamps they put out today, I really don’t care if they go out of business entirely. In fact, I hope they do.
The same is true of action figures, which I pretty much gave up on this year. I still keep a toe in the hobby so I know what’s going on, but likewise, there are people who think that no matter how expensive it gets, no matter how bad the quality gets, no matter how horrendous the distribution of action figures gets, we somehow owe it to Hasbro and Mattel to keep buying every crappy thing they put out, no matter how much we don’t want to. It’s our responsibility to prop up an industry, no matter how bad it gets, because we’re fanatically devoted to getting our new plastic fix.
Another group that has this same problem are MMO gamers. Over the years, many of them assert that the MMO industry has gone downhill, the games are simplified to the point of absurdity, they’re not fun, they’re stupid, yet the concept of not playing an MMO, even one they hate with a passion, is beyond considering. They will pay money month after month for a game that they detest and spend all of their time sitting on a forum bitching and whining about because they cannot bring themselves to admit that they’ve outgrown the industry and they want something that so few people want, there’s no chance that a developer is ever going to make a game they’ll like.
To be honest, the more I think about it, a lot of hard-core comic book fans are the same. They complain long and loud about how awful comics have become and how much they hate all the decisions made by comic companies. When DC came out with their New 52, lots of people were up in arms, claiming it would ruin the industry. However, suggest to those people that they stop buying the comics they detest and you hear cries of “heresy”! They can’t possibly do that, how else will they get their comic fix? They would rather pay for things they detest and then complain about it than to take a stand and vote with their wallets and just go find something different to do.
Hey, not to leave anyone out, what about music or movie fanatics? I can’t tell you how many times I see people whining loud and long about how bad music is or how expensive it is or how horrible anything coming out of Hollywood is, but they’re the ones with terabytes of music on their MP3 players and they’re the ones standing in line all night to get into the first showing of the next movie.
Sorry, that’s not for me. I have never been fanatical about, well, anything. I collect because I want to collect. I get what I want to get. When I stop wanting to collect a particular thing, I stop. I don’t get the jitters. I don’t get upset. I don’t have withdrawal symptoms. I just stop. It was fun while it lasted. I will enjoy what I have and move on to something else. I do not understand the kind of obsessive/compulsive personalities that have to get a particular thing, no matter how awful it gets. I play games because they’re fun. When they stop being fun, I stop playing them. When books stop being good, I stop reading them. When movies aren’t interesting, I stop watching them. I don’t have any absurdly strong attachment to any particular thing, my life does not revolve around any specific action or event. If I stop wanting to do something, I simply stop doing it. I just don’t get people who cannot bring themselves to do the same.
Unfortunately, I see the same thing happening in the atheist community as well. So many people bitch and whine about how much they hate Atheism+, how they wish it would just go away, yet they spend all their time following all the asshats around, following their every move and commenting on their every word, even though they know for a fact that it’s that very attention that keeps Atheism+ going. It’s about as ridiculous as the people who hate religion, who say they wish religion would vanish, who adamantly want religion to stop impacting on their lives, then they follow the religious around like rabid lunatics, they constantly harass them on Twitter, post to religious hashtags specifically to cause an adverse reaction, then whine about how the religious are bothering them. It really gets ridiculous.
People seem to be their own worst enemies, they don’t seem to be able to just walk away from things they hate, they don’t understand that nothing will change for the better if they keep up the status quo. You don’t like how video games are? Stop playing those video games. Vote with your wallet. You don’t like those toys or stamps or comics? Don’t buy them! You can’t stand being around a particular group? Stop being around them! I don’t think this is rocket science, it’s common sense, but unfortunately, as is all too painful these days, common sense isn’t terribly common.