When Common rapped “if I don’t like it I don’t like it that don’t mean that I’m hatin” he wasn’t talking about the car community, but with enthusiasts being branded as ‘haters’ for simply expressing an opinion that differs from the majority, he easily could have been.
Today it’s not all that uncommon for someone, who for sake of illustration we will call Person A, to post their car (usually modified to the upper extremes of their style choice) online and have it shared on a social media outlet where Person B says “that looks awesome” , person C concurs, and person D says “With modifications one, two and three, I think four through five are not really necessary and take away from the car’s overall look”.
At this point Person A replies with something to the effect of “whatever haters motivate me”, B and C quickly add he didn’t build it for you, and people E through F come out of the woodwork asking “if you don’t like style xyz why are you following Xyz Society?”, before ending with “no one asked for your opinion anyway, hater”.
This alphabet soup example might seem contrived, and depending on what areas of the internet you frequent unrealistic, but trust me it happens with alarming regularity. Calling people “haters” and then completely disregarding what they have to say, no matter how valid or eloquently stated, has become the adult equivalent of covering one’s ears and saying “lalalala I can’t hear you”.
To be honest considering how thin the skin of many enthusiasts appears to be I’m surprised they’ve managed to wield a wrench without it coming through the other side of their hand. Heaven forbid someone try to offer up constructive criticism of any kind and not just an opinion, that might just cause all out anarchy.
Do you think car modification icons like George Barris, Boyd Coddington, and Ed Roth (if for whatever reason those names seem unfamiliar how about Nakai San, Wataru Kato, or Magnus Walker) expected everyone to like what they did and no one to speak up otherwise?
Their styles are all heavily studied, debated, and criticized but, but at the end of the day they all own their aesthetic choices and stand behind them, not behind a sticker that claims they didn’t build it for your approval.
If you want to build a car that represents your taste and personality by all means go for it, but don’t expect everyone to like it and the notion that if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all, is far better suited for the kindergarten classroom than it is in a community made up primarily of adults.
Differences of opinion, especially in a hobby as subjective as car building, is a good thing, and criticism isn’t often meant to insult.
Using myself as an example, just because I don’t like a particular feature of a car, or a particular style of modification, doesn’t mean I don’t respect the build, the builder, or style.
There have been several times where I have lobbied a criticism or query about a modification, or stylistic choice, and received a very detailed valid justification for its execution. That bit of perspective often leaves me respecting the build that much more.
Sure I still might not like it but, if these individuals truly built their car for themselves, and not me, that shouldn’t matter.
Continuing to chastise and drive out those who think differently, or challenge what is currently in fashion, simply encourages more of the same lather rinse repeat, brighter, wider, lower, louder, formula that people are already beginning to tire of.
To sum thing sup as succinctly as I can, I am not proposing a community based on negativity, but rather one where constructive criticism is both effectively given and received without resulting in fierce stand offs and open minds. Sure it might be an idealistic goal, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one we should all strive for.
Until we get there however just remember If I don’t like it, I don’t like it that doesn’t mean that I’m hatin’.