This is the third salvo in Michael Rutherford’s regular column, Fire for Effect. Take it away Mike…
Generalizations. We love to use them and we chafe when we spot others using them. We love the notions implied by the noun: AFOL. I know, it’s actually an acronym… but an acronym is just a type of noun… so shut your grammar-nazi mouth already! The notion AFOL, what does it suggest? What do you think about when you hear it? If you’re reading this text, the odds are that you self-identify as an AFOL. The acronym suggests that AFOL is a thing. If it is a thing, then it has traits that describe the thing, right? A denotative description would be a definition. I’m not about that today, no definition is required. No list of criteria which when applied to the subject, describe that subject in consistent and accurate detail. Nope. Today I’m feeling connotative. I speak in terms of trends, norms and ambiguous suggestions that are often affiliated with the subject.
WARNING! We are now leaving the realm of absolutes and categoricals! Variations, or even substantial deltas between my proffered connotations of the term AFOL and your personal traits are to be expected! This does not indicate a catastrophic cognitive disconnect, or even that a water landing is imminent. I do ask that you remain focused and keep your seat belt fastened while we pass through this turbulent airspace. I’m talking about AFOLs as a population and offering some unflattering observations (Duh… Want a pat on the back? You’ve come to the wrong shop brother!) I’m not talking about you, or that guy next to you… or even old boy who lives way down town (on the other side of the tracks… yeah, not even that guy). I’m talking population level generalities… and I challenge you all: Come back at me at the same level. With counter observations (or arguments even!) that apply to the AFOL as a population. Remember, if AFOL is a thing, then some generalizations should apply.
So let’s talk generalizations. Here are TWO generalizations about AFOLs that I am pretty comfortable throwing out there for public consumption. They may seem contradictory on first examination, but try these generalizations on for size:
AFOLs are sensitive people.
AFOLs are insensitive people.
SENSITIVE: AFOLs are quiet, introverted, creative people who persue a hobby that begins with a spark of inspiration and then takes form at a table, or a keyboard. Usually in their home and often in hours of darkness. Maybe with some music playing in the background or a favorite movie. It’s an exercise in two parts: first in creativity and then in sharing. Communication regarding their MOCs often take place in an on-line context and is often tumultuous and fraught with peril. They often chafe at negative observations by fellow hobbyists regarding their MOCs, and they thrive on praise. (STOP! This is a description, not a value judgement! Don’t be so sensitive!). The AFOL is sensitive… to their own feelings.