Sunday Column: Peter Griffiths – Big mouth Strikes Again

What is your definition of a troll? For me it’s a person who drops in on an online conversation with the sole intent of winding up the unsuspecting participants with either plausible lies, outright abuse or, worse, accusations of fanboy-ness (please feel free to disabuse me of the correct term but the fact that ‘fanboy’ is already ridiculous renders the point moot).

Now, what’s your definition of a fanboy? I understand it to be akin to a religious fanatic, someone who won’t let go of their grip on their idol, or concede any valid and proven points made against what they hold dear. Imagine if the car modification scene had any sort of political influence – I don’t think they’d drop tools and annex Shropshire, but there are a lot of them and they are extremely passionate.

I’ve been accused of being a fanboy AND a troll but ironically never when I’ve genuinely been acting as such. Last week, in fact, I honestly enquired after the best alternative to the popular fruity mobile phone, as I’ve not needed to know for the last three years, and found people replying on the defensive! If there is a more responsive screen, an equally brilliant UI, or anything that just feels better in the hand then I want to know and would definitely ‘defect’.

I have not needed to know about other phones because I have not found anything that these things cannot do excepting Flash but honestly nothing important was ever conveyed via Flash that you couldn’t find elsewhere very easily. This means I’m enthusiastic about this phone and it’s ancestors and so am vulnerable to the accusations of both being a fanboy and a troll when I offer my personal experiences in a relevant conversation. Ah well!

It’s usually in the eye of the beholder, same as all matters of opinion, but people should really be able to control themselves in this post-modern age – a little bit of self-effacing self-reference goes a long way.

In the same way as the mobile phone has done, my BMW has got itself under my skin and so I chat about it quite a lot (I know I do!) but for the same excellent reasons – its not let me down in 3 years, I’ve not found anything it can’t do, and it draws my eye every time I walk away. Why shouldn’t I be enthusiastic? To be fair nobody has overtly said I shouldn’t but the culture of the fanboy and troll gives people a starting point to do just that.

The thing is that you’ve got to look at the broader picture in terms of these brands. The fruity computer company have many different products in their oeuvre, as do BMW, and as with BMW I do not own, covet or even basically like all of what they do or have done. While I think BMW’s ethics might stand up a little better than the IT company’s; that is a very difficult accusation to level at anyone: “You have that particular phone therefore you have taken a whip to a suicidal Chinaman’s back!”, er, have you ever bought an item of clothing, *mate*?!

This is why I think it’s unfair to accuse all MG owners of having beards and wearing tweed or all Audi lovers of being contrary tailgaters. I know a man who wears tweed and he enjoys his Fabia vRS. I also know a guy with an Audi and… erm. Yeah. You see? It’s too easy, too cheap a shot, it doesn’t make sense.

MG Owners all beardy types? An old assumption past its time

When I’m reading every single printed word of a popular magazine which focusses on retro cars, it is always the articles on people who have the eclectic tastes and are not afraid to mix and match that set my mind into a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.  Sometimes even the magazine itself drops in a phrase like ‘acquired taste’ or ‘esoteric’ when things are getting a bit ‘out there’.

The Gilbern Invader – a cliche ‘acquired taste’

This is unfair really, especially since a whole article has been dedicated to them. It’s up to the spanner-wielder to effectively convey their enthusiasm in a way that convinces us (not that I need any convincing that Humbers need jazzing up) that they’re not mental. These people are constant sources of inspiration to me in that they are free to chop and change and drive what they want. Personally I do feel a little trapped but only to a certain extent because I can’t think of any other car I’d enjoy more for the money, does everything I want and all that blah.

Nissan Sunny – an opinion splitter

Luckily the sort of people who seriously accuse others of being trolls and fanboys are easy to spot and avoid, and genuine fanboys and trolls even easier. If you’ve got the time then it’s worth trying to help them see the errors etc. But often it’s best just to ignore them. For the moment I’m happy to sarcastically pose as both because everyone can enjoy that if done right.

Modified Cavalier – not one for the purists

I’m a fanboy! And so are you! Maybe we’re all just being extremely forgiving of each other, sympathetic to each other’s afflictions? Either way, once again I finish up with a thankful note on the car scene that has been such fun over the past two years and I’m sure will only get better and better. Thanks for being decent and lovely people.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s