Not Exactly A Newtype: 008 - Tears Of A Clown.
I just want to thank you for tuning in once more to this station and for your continued support to these articles and the Gunpla Network. No one has told me to stop yet, so I’ll just keep bashing out my weekly collections of observations and anecdotes. We at the Gunpla Network aim to please and based on the stats, we are pleasing some people…and that is good.
But……contrary to that….the Gunpla social media experience is not always good, not quite what people had expected, and to be honest, partially by the own doing and partially not, and at this point I’d like to share my own view of how social media can both enhance your Gunpla experience and also detract from your experience. I'm gonna talk about it here right now. Some are gonna think it sooky and I'm bein a big baby but I'm not speaking just for me. When I threw this topic around it surprised me how many builders have had to deal with some online personal challenges and so I thought it relevant to address it. The building is a personal experience and when you put it out there for peeps to see, expect it to get.....personal.
Some hobbies attract a certain personality and I don't think Gunpla attracts doosh bags as a rule but they're out there and you gotta be ready for it. Not just that, there's just a lot goin on and you gotta be ready for that. Some of you may have no idea what I'm yabbering about and good for you. Rock on. Its not as happy and rosy as my usual rambling but I'd like out get it out of the way and move on...literally.
From a personal experience, I am reasonably new to the entire social media realm. I’ve been on Instagram for about 5-6 years….with all my RC aircraft stuff…I have a solid following and a feed that suits me nicely….and that’s it. I'd been off the grid until I pushed in to RC rock crawling for a couple of months and I realized I finally had to succumb to the call of the dreaded Facebook and since then have moved on from RC rock crawling and now am full blown committed to Gunpla, both for Instagram and Facebook. My Facebook feed is ONLY Gunpla…and its only 3 groups, Gunpla Network (of course), Gunpla Builders Australia (GBA) and my local group Gunpla Brisbane Build Group (GBBG). I poke around other open groups a bit, but i find myself retreating to the safety and chilled atmosphere of those three groups. I only see what’s posted in those three groups. I don’t wanna know what my ‘friends’ had for breakfast or what my brother or mum are doing this weekend. They can call me and tell me if it matters.
So when I hit the Gunpla scene I gave the social media thing a red hot go. I was just looking at posting my work as newb and simple as it was, and nothing could really prepare me for the level of unsolicited advice I was about to receive. I was crazy with excitement about this Gunpla thing and posting everything I could think of and thought people might be interested in. Mega multi WIPs in one night as I smashed out a quiet HG in 3-4 hours, which I think many people enjoyed, at times. Every time I bought a new tool or product, I was shouting out to the world that it was great and to get behind the stores and products. Liking every build that I saw whether I actually ‘liked’ it or not, but it was up and the builder deserved a tick so hey its easy and we all know how it feels to get a like.
And after about 4-5 months something happened. Something triggered me. Something had changed. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I knew I was not exactly happy with the change. I had inadvertently put pressure on myself. No one else could be blamed. I was the solo creator of this situation. All the speed builds and triple posts and WIPs and thanking everyone for liking my posts. Being somewhat of an introvert in the real world I was finding it all a bit exhausting. I started to notice some politics between people and product lines and levels of skills. It was becoming more and more apparent to me that there were some loud voices amongst it all; some skilled, some not, and some of these loud voices seemed to always be saying “you’re doing it wrong”. Not just to me but to anyone. Everyone. Often, I’d see posts of a build that yeah wasn’t too awesome, like the first attempt at chipping, it looked like it’d been hit by a shotgun, or the panel lining wasn’t as good as you had seen before, and the loud voices made it pretty clear, pretty abruptly. I like to use a method I call the ‘shit sandwich’. Something good…something not good…something good. For example…”nice man. I can see you put some solid time into this build and yeah the weathering is prob way more than I’d have gone for but heck you nailed the pose”. It’s easy to be nice.
But what we have to realize is that when we post online, we are opening ourselves to criticism, whether we want it or not. We have to be ready to keep our composure and take it as somebody trying to help....whether they are or not.
For me, there was a stage where I just loved to gunk kits. Some were justified…well to me they were all justified. But at the time, that was my one trick. And as much as I could see people suggesting I could go about it ‘other ways’, I was getting a bit peeved at being told how to build my kits I paid for with my money. I wasn’t wanting to achieve anything…..I had no GBWC aspirations.... I just wanted to put a nice big Gunpla smile on my face and share the vibe. I never asked for feedback (as many posts foolishly do, coz you are open game then, my friend) I just posted a pic of my new born child and was at times faced with someone tellin me it was an ugly child. Boo hoo me, right. I know.
Now don’t get me wrong…..I am super appreciative of the time people take to give me ‘feedback’ as we all are and I know many people are just trying to get you to take that next step and improve your skills and I have no doubt I have improved my skillz as a direct result of legit 'feedback', but some people, are not doing that at all and its hard to tell via text on a screen sometimes. And I appreciate the good old thumbs up like anyone, it’s nice to be shown a little appreciation, but I believe the criticism/feedback and the quest for ‘likes’ were slowly modifying the reason I was building. Initially we all build because we love the mobile suits or the anime or both. We love seeing them in our displays. Regardless of our skill levels they look amazing and we get to freeze time and see our anime heroes strike fear in to the hearts of their enemies, right there in our display cabinets. And these came from our very own hands. We started with the same kit every other builder has started with and put our spin on it. We’ve taken it to our level or standard of work required, to give us a feeling of self-satisfaction and achievement.
Well, somehow, I’d moved past that and felt I was building for other reasons, dare I say…..for other people. Totally self-generated feelings. I felt for some reason I was building for likes and approval. And it kinda pushed me to build quicker and more often than I really needed to. I was definitely still enjoying the building. But the reward didn’t seem to come until I had pics posted and I had the likes rolling in and I was getting that little pat on the back and feeling that was where my achievement laid. Man. Where did I go wrong?
Now I am sure I’m not alone in this here. The primary difference is likely that most people took about 12-18 months to get in to this sorta jam, but I took about 4 months. Goin flat out. Like, I got to a party with free booze and I’m just smashing down tequila shots like it twas 1999 and I’m doin all the cool dance moves and everyone is lovin em (as far as I can tell anyways) but then come the morning I’m curled up with an old rag of a blanket asleep under a pool table at the party by the pool and I’m not really sure why I feel so bad. I just know at some point I went too hard, too fast, and for the wrong reasons.
I know, a bit dramatic…but that’s sorta how it felt to me. So it’s time to sober up I say to myself. Get off the booze (social media). Get back to partying the way I used to. Chilled. Swing off a couple of mid strength beers over the night. Watch others dance their tails off. Catch a cab home at the end of the night and get a great night’s sleep in my own bed and wake to recollect what a great time I had at that party and I should prob call the number of that cute girl that I was chatting with.
And so that’s what I’ve done…..I’ve taken just a little step back from being the self appointed ‘life of the party’. Relaxed back in to building......for me. For my imagination. That’s why I’ve enjoyed Gunpla so much from the start. It’s captured my imagination and allowed me to escape in to a world where I can be free and I make the decisions. I'm a grown adult (mostly) and when I wanna tune out I want it to be for the right reasons. What I was starting to see was as I put more and more in to my builds, I was putting more of ‘me’ on the line with every post. More emotional investment. Wanting each comment to be “that’s great, man” and “keep it comin, mate” but I was not getting that. And even when the criticism/feedback was at times justified I was now sorta blinded in my own fury to get only positive feedback that I took some feedback the wrong way. Yes, you are correct when you say I could’ve just ignored it. This is not a ‘poor me story’; this is a warning to those newbs out there following along just a nautical mile or so behind me, that you need to try and stay true to your cause. Always keep in mind what it is you want from Gunpla. For me, seeing the kits go from box to display with my desired level of detail or standard, that gives me a sense of satisfaction is essential. And that is important no matter what level of builder you are. I will post WIPs and final pics but I now have weaned myself of the need for constant serotonin top ups as a result of perfect strangers hitting the ‘like’ button on my posts. Now I’m not saying don’t ‘like’ my pics. That’s just crazy talk. But I am saying….if you do a self-check and you feel a smattering of what I’ve described here and find yourself in a state similar to the one I have described here….trust me…..do a little detox.
Now it’s all been a bit glum really and that’s not how I like to end a chat. We don't ask for feedback...but we get it. That's just what we have to get used to. The perils of opening yourself up and laying it online for all to see. What I will say is that the most important and rewarding aspect of Gunpla for me and what has assisted me to break off the chains of social media is by communicating with actual humans. Going to build meets and chatting with people. And for those friendships I only have online I have made an effort to engage in conversation online about topics other than Gunpla. Its helped me remember that it’s really a lot about the people I’ve met through Gunpla and the hangin out, whether it be for real or online. I’ve had a Skype sesh or two with a couple of builders I really enjoy the company of. Just had the old iPad off to the side chattin away like we were on opposite sides of a build table at a meet or in a garage. It was actually pretty cool. And so by increasing the actual ‘human factor’ in my Gunpla and reducing the virtual factor I have regained my Freedom to build what I like, when I like, how I like, and why I like. Online, surround yourself with the best people that best suit your style. If you're feelin a bit intimidated think about sharing your WIP’s with your friends directly rather than throwing them out there for all and sundry to have a poke at, just until you get a bit more confidence. In general I’d say the majority of the online Gunpla community is chilled and pretty fair but it only takes a few bad apples to get under your skin or a run of negative feedback. And, a lot of you have no idea what I’m talking about and I should just harden the hell up. Well, I just did I guess. Grew a thicker skin. And now I’m able to play with my toy wobots without having other grown adults bringin me down. Ironic, huh. On the other side of the coin, when you get the opportunity to give feedback and/or show support, make it just that. Regardless of the quality (within reason) remember there's a human, a builder, just like you, at the other end of your comments.
Don't be an arse.
Because when the community has its moments and goes to shit and implodes on itself over childish stupid crap.....we are to blame for putting up with the doosh bags and lack of positive vibes in our community. I know for a fact the Gunpla Network pretty much runs on that premise....don't be an arse.
This is not a sad poor bugger me story, my friends. This is a story of victory and it’s not always just a Gunpla story. Always put the human factor first and everything will be rosy.
Now stop whining and go build something.....with a fellow human where possible.
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