Many years ago I used to be a user of a Linux forum of a distribution and everything was good. At some point the developer and the king of the forum disappeared and the other admins started to control the forum. Before everyone knew it things started to change and deteriorate – rapidly. First no one was allowed to speak out of the problems in a negative tone, the onfortunate one who did so, was silenced quite quickly. No one was allowed to speak aloud of the problems in the atmosphere because it would have disrupted the image of the happy family. After a while talking about other distributions was not allowed anymore and that, if something, is very normal behaviour amongst the people who like toying with their computers. Everything and everybody was to be happy. I left the forum for a while. I came back 2-3 years later only to notice that the things were even worse than when I left. That was it for me, I left for good, I can live my life without cults.
I’ve found my fountain pen hobby only some months ago and a while ago I heard of the Goulet Nation where the happy fountain pen users can share their knowledge and talk about their enthusiasm. Remembering the experiences of the linux forum mentioned in the beginning I hesitated but still sent my request to join. The request was accepted in few hours and I was in.
There was a saying in a movie: ”part of the ship, part of the crew” and I noticed very quickly that this is the case also in this group. You are very easily disregarded if you don’t show orders from The Company, you don’t tell about your plans to buy from The Company, you don’t ask about the inks that The Company Owner has mentioned in his recent videos and/or you are going to buy or have bought a TWSBI or Jinhao pen from The Company. ”Oh look, I may have ordered something, now my bank account hates me...!” *giggle* Without the evidence this statement cannot be verified so a screenshot of the paid items is a must.
I’m a person who doesn’t like to follow the mainstream very easily, I rather take my chances by trial and error, in many cases it is a more useful approach to learning than being a fanboy of something and do the same what everyone else does. I also like to study peoples behaviour and reactions to different things so I all of my posting were something where the material used was not bought from The Company for two reasons. First I wanted to see how people react and second in my opinion it is quite normal to let people know what the writing instrument was and what ink was used because somenone ask it anyway. Pens behave differently with different inks (and papers, of course) so this informaton is not to be neglected. But this is only me, perhaps the users can’t handle or appreciate the information in general or because the pens weren’t Lamys, Jinhaos or TWSBIs. The same is in photography, you inform the viewers about the equipment, the optics, the values etc.
I used pens X and Y which I always informed in post and lo and behold, before long there was someone who decided to be smart and posted a question if someone has experience of the differences of the pens X and Y. I closed my eyes almost laughing and answered with two photos wanting to see what happens, I decided not to end my second answer with a winking smiley even though it was very tempting. Propably the original poster and the group thought I didn’t get the point but unfortunately it was a clear indication of the overall spirit of the group.
Shortly after that I left the group being a member for some days. The atmosphere was too similar to the linux forum mentioned in the beginning. The group hasn’t been around for long but the users call themselves already gouleteers – quite an unofortunate sign of a rising cult of personality of some sort. Though naming the group a ”Nation” after a person’s name is not the best start after all. Making a society around a company and it’s products is an efficient way to improve the company’s turnover but the unfortunate byproduct is the inward oriented group of fans. You are not part of the ship nor the crew if you haven’t received your tootsie pop and sent a photo of it to the group. I almost ordered something from The Company but after leaving the group I decided not to and because I live in Europe, I’ll buy that something from the UK with the same price tag and especially without the risk of the customs fees which wouldn’t have been that big in this case...oh, and I’ll get a huge bottle of ink for free when ordering that something. I think it’ll beat the tootsie pop. I just wanted to see how The Company works but maybe some other time.
I respect Brian Goulet for his achievements and his contribution to the fountain pen world and the purpose of this writing is not by any means to bash him or his work. He makes excellent and informative videos and I have learnt a ton of of those videos. I’m just very, very worried about the group and the direction it is going. Respecting someone or something higly is very different from iconizing a person or making a fanboy cult around a person or a product or a service. The group is young and evolving and it has great potential to be good, but – unfortunately - at the moment the trend is towards the bad and the ugly.