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Trainspotters and why we hate them

Started by Hoogstraten'sSmilingUlcer, October 26, 2004, 10:48:21 PM

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Hoogstraten'sSmilingUlcer

...Or rather, why do we hate them? There seems to be an unbridled hatred of trainspotters and indeed any person or group of people with a hobby of any sort - be it trainspotting, stamp collecting, film buffery, reading, writing stuff in spare moments, playing in a band, playing Warhammer, or whatever tickles you. I can't see what's wrong with having a harmless hobby, but from the prevailing point of view, there's everything wrong with them. Most hobbies - even playing in a band - mean you're either on your own, or in a small band (New Labour lingo: a bourgeous elite). Thus, you're not in the mass, you're creating new ideas and going against the grain of either Yobbism (FHM & media-obssessed culture etc.) or New Labourish bon homie. You live in your own private sect. Apparently....but this is of course contemptable, because hobbies or past times or time-wasting are the side-order to your average existence. It's like Kafka being an office clerk during the day, and a writer at night. I think people with past times which don't revolve around the bar or the football pitch are genuinely good things, and we should cherish them for creating diversity and idiosyncracy in an increasingly homogenous society.

I'm approaching this form an agnostic position; my hobbies are limited to reading, scribbling random ideas and thoughts down, listening to music, and going to the cinema, theatre when I can. I don't really count going out and socialising as a hobby, but maybe it is.

Anyway, my point is that I can't understand the sneers that are pointed towards, say, trainspotters. To me, trainspotting is just as valid an activity as going out to the pub or the cinema, it's just one that's seen as sad. But what's so sad about it? It can be social, it can be a group activity, they enjoy it and it passes the time. And if you do want to do it on your own, I still don't see that as any more sad that going to the pub or cinema on your own. Indeed, I think a bit of solitude is healthy and refreshing, and whenever someone claims that they're always with their mates and never alone, my suspicions are aroused. It pisses me off that people criticise, say, trainspotting as being terribly sad and pathetic, but these people are just following the herd themselves and doing bugger all of difference or interest. At least, hobbyists are doing something a bit different. It's possible that soon trainspotters will be the free radicals, like the Bolsheviks of pre-1917 Russia of our society, and the lager-swilling lad the Tzar. I can understand why trainspotters etc. are mocked; their comparatively slow past time does jar with the rush-rush society we've made ourselves, and it does require added brainpower and a dedicated interest, but I think they're no more mockable than the leering wanker who sits in the pub all day. Only it's more sociably acceptable to despise the trainspotter, because Jeremy Clarkson/Tony Parsons/Julie Burchill/Garry Bushell/Richard Littlejohn/lads mags tells us it is.

It may come down to laziness: trainspotting and other active past times actually need a bit of brain and dedication (a slither of intelligence, basically), and this seems odd in a society which doesn't value intelligence or intellectual capabilities as much as it should. Don't get me wrong, I'm a physically lazy bastard, but I don't try and dim what I have of an intellect. I think hobbies are extremely important because, among others, they're relaxing and fun, and also mentally stimulating. Some people prefer to drink their spare time away - and that's fine by me, because I do a bit of that too - but others prefer to relax by engaging themselves and doing things they wouldn't usually do - hence the existence of weekend mountain biking, trainspotters' clubs, and wargames clubs. If I could just add the existence of sci-fi and comic book conventions to this too. There's an almost tangible loathing of comic books and sci-fi cons, from the usual group of wankers, which again, I can't grasp. I don't see why people hate comic book readers so vehemently - possibly based on the assumption that comic books are for kids alone and that sci-fi is for people with no girlfriends. I've never heard a credible argument for why 'comic book geeks are sad.' It's seems a pointless, pathetic hatred.

This has come about after hearing someone bemoan trainspotters as being 'unsociable and weird,' I presume because they aren't down the pub seven days a week (this is probably misconception on their part, because I've met trainspotters who drink buckets of cider). Personally, I'd find someone who spent all their time in the pub chasing tarts rather tedious, because that's all they do. They're rather one note and narrow-minded (that's not to say that all regular pub-goers are boring).  At least with a trainspotter there's novelty value; after all, they seem to be quite rare thesedays, and I admire their eccentricity and their own little rebellion against modern culture - as it's become. Perhaps that's the kernal of my admiration for trainspotters and other supposed unsociable geeks: that they're relatively independent and they continue their private hobbies despite the general opinion that it's sad and, oh God, uncool.

Of course, most trainspotters et al are actually people with very active social lives, who piss in the face of the FHM-guided view that they must wear bobble hats and live with elderly relatives. It's just that there's a pretty vile attitude towards people who don't join in with the pub culture (which itself is not necessarily bad or evil), and it seems so pointless - who gives a fuck what you do at the weekends and why does it matter? I recently heard someone say, 'I wish everyone could be normal...' which set me on edge, mainly because they were assuming that they were the epitome of normality, but also because if everyone was 'normal' and everyone was the same, it'd get very boring very quickly and we need people with bizarre hobbies and even stranger dress-codes to firstly redress the balance, but also to stop ourselves killing each other over a million simultaneously spilt pints.

This wasn't really meant to be solely about hobbies, because there was a proper post about hobbies earlier, but more about some people's attitudes towards supposedly 'sad' past times - like trainspotting, Warhammer, comic book collecting.

Any thoughts on this?

Lumiere

Quote from: "Hoogstraten'sSmilingUlcer"...
I'm approaching this form an agnostic position; my hobbies are limited to reading, scribbling random ideas and thoughts down, listening to music, and going to the cinema, theatre when I can. I don't really count going out and socialising as a hobby, but maybe it is.

These 'hobbies' apply to me, as I'm sure they apply to a lot of the board.

I always saw trainspotting as sad because:

It's an incredibly boring subject.
It involves noting things down pointlessly.
Trainspotters are usually fanatics.

Whereas, say, if you're into skydiving:

It's incredibly exhilerating.
It involves doing something daring.
It's something that not many people do.

Whereas something like skydiving IS all the above things, trainspotters would like to think that the above three points apply to their hobby.

It's also the stereotype - thick glasses, anorak, lots of dandruff, bobble hat, tea in a thermos flask, notebook and pencil - that makes trainspotting...non grata, shall we say. I know this image is mostly false, but still. It's the idea.

My main hobby is music. I am a fanatic, and everything about music gives me a thrill - purchasing, listening and poring (over the artwork). It definitely gives me a buzz buying a CD, but I'm fully aware that it doesn't apply to other people, and understand why. My feeling is that trainspotters get a buzz from what they do, can't fathom why this feeling can't apply to other people and don't understand when people call it sad.

That's my stance.

Ciarán2

I like trainspotters. We - aherm - they are vastly misunderstood. It comes from an interest in public transport generally, I find. Okay, I'm not exactly a trainspotter, but I find public transport interesting. It something most of us use everyday, and it's nice to take the time to take a proper look at it. And I would argue that trainspotting isn't just about "jotting pointless things in a notebook", it's often connected to a social network. I think it's a fine thing to have a hobby and to be enthusiastic about something has to be a good thing. I don't think trainspotters are hated, either. It's more of an old fashioned joke.

The trainspotter personality traits people mention can be as easily attributed to that recent phenomena The Home-Cinema Bore

Lumiere

Quote from: "Ciarán"I think it's a fine thing to have a hobby and to be enthusiastic about something has to be a good thing]

What if your hobby is killing.

Mr Colossal

I wasn't aware of any actual hate towards the aforementioned group of people...

Things such as trainspotting and  stamp collecting have that age old 'shit hobby' cliche tagged onto them, with the  stereotypical fanbase  of anorak and NHS spec wearing, flask and clipboard wielding spod... Much like your average disturbingly obssessive sci-fi enthusiast.

Theres not much difference between those and something like fishing, or collecting a panini sticker book... They just have different goals, and aren't up to date with the current trends.

I have no problem with anything that keeps these people busy, i just cant mentally reason why somebody would want to, for example, track down and get the individual details of say all 52 IDENTICAL Eddie Stobbard trucks...

Claude the Racecar Driving Rockstar Super Sleuth

People hate them because they go around being unpleasant  and beating people up. Oh wait that's chavs and squaddies isn't it.

Ciarán2

Well, Lumiere, if your "hobby is killing", then it is a bad thing.

Suttonpubcrawl

The thing about trainspotting and other things like that is that I think it arises from an interest in engineering and the many different varieties of train, some of them quite similar but with hard to notice differences. It appeals to the collectors instinct, you want to look at and photograph and ride all the different varieties of train that there are, notice the little differences and the similarities. I suppose it's hard to explain the fun that can be had from getting to see a slightly different but new (to you) version of a bus or something like that, if you don't experience that yourself.

I am a bit of a bus enthusiast myself but not in a noting down numbers way, I'm just interested in them and like to take photos of them. I don't quite see the benefit of noting down numbers although I suppose it could be interesting to know where you've seen a certain bus, where it is, what it has done and things like that. I suppose that's another aspect that could appeal to the collectors instinct, collecting this information about various different vehicles.

On the subject of the stereotype of trainspotters, bus spotters etc, it is actually partly true. It's also partly not true. Look at these bus spotters:


Some of them look like the stereotype (and there are some bus spotters who look much more like the stereotype than that), but those two younger oriental ones (as it happens, bus spotting seems to be quite popular in the far east) look rather different, they look a bit trendier and less weird. Having been to bus events you see quite a wide range of types, from the people who look like they're on day release from a mental hospital to people who look rather trendier than the average person.

It does seem to be something that's a bit of a social network for some people. People go to bus events and see their mates there, and you hear lots of people having a chat with good friends who they obviously meet quite often at such events while riding various special buses. There is a sense of a community.

Life eh? We've lost John Peel and we're losing the Routemasters.

Still Not George

Hello every one. My name isn't George, and I'm a roleplayer.

Right. Let's stop just there. Analyse the reaction you just had to that first mini-paragraph. See all those immediate assumptions, all those images that leap to mind? That's nothing to be ashamed of - you can't help your conditioning, any more than I can help my reaction to football - but the fact remains that you're wrong.

I'm involved in one of the most inventive and intensely social pastimes ever invented... and yet I'm somehow a spotty pariah? Yeah, right.

Same applies to trainspotting. A bunch of lazy comedians' sketches do not a hobby make. It's lazy bollocks and it's amazing people can still get away with it in this supposedly "enlightened" age.

Emergency Lalla Ward Ten

I've always wondered what the antithesis of trainspotteriness (to which we're all supposed to buckle down and subscibe) actually is. My friend once suggests that if knowing stuff is sad then surely the coolest person in the world is someone who knows nothing. Ignorance is celebrated - 'he's one of the lads, he doesn't show off'.

I think anti-trainspotter types tend to favour physical/sensual thrills - dancing, skydiving, murder, etc. Where doing stuff is automatically more worthy than thinking about stuff.

The 'They don't fit in, we don't know what they're thinking' fear of trainspotters is probably true too - Tom Hodgkinson suggests as much in How To Be Idle.

I think trainspotting is a lovely hobby. It's about being enthusiastic about the history of that which surrounds you - who else but a cunt would sneer at that?

Claude the Racecar Driving Rockstar Super Sleuth

QuoteMy friend once suggests that if knowing stuff is sad then surely the coolest person in the world is someone who knows nothing
.

Henry's Cat?

untitled_london

Quote from: "Suttonpubcrawl"



Who'd think the young Dennis Waterman was a trainspotter.

/me goes back to being a self-confessed geek

Purple Tentacle

Whatever floats your boat, surely? Just because you don't like something doesn't mean you should waste your breath laughing at it. I'm completely and utterly addicted to computer games, a hobby as utterly pointless as any you could mention.
My housemates were massively into Dungeons and Dragons, something which I tried, I really tried, but came to the conclusion that I just couldn't take it seriously enough.  While I couldn't give a toss whether my "character" died or not, I will happily throw my gamepad across the room when that moustachio-d, dungareed fucking twat falls off that fucking high-wire for the 45th time.

So what's the difference between rolling some dice and pretending you're an orc, or pressing some buttons and pretending you're a mushroom-guzzling plumber? None, I suppose.  I suppose a D&D enthusiast could claim that they use more imagination, but I still found it pompous and boring.  I'm sure if I went into the woods with SNG and his pals I would ruin the day for everyone by finding the whole thing bloody stupid, just the same that my dad would ruin an 8 hour Mario Kart session.


Fucking hell, what's my point?  Yeah, everyone has their own hhhhhobby, don't expect other people to be interested and don't judge other people's hhhhobbies.

Smackhead Kangaroo

Quote from: "Still Not George"Hello every one. My name isn't George, and I'm a roleplayer.


Does that mean you're the 'Daddy' again?

Still Not George

Quote from: "Purple Tentacle"I'm sure if I went into the woods with SNG and his pals I would ruin the day for everyone by finding the whole thing bloody stupid, just the same that my dad would ruin an 8 hour Mario Kart session.

Now, here's an interesting side point. Hobbies, as someone already mentioned, are not the same worldwide. Live Action Roleplaying (LARP, or sometimes LRP - no-one can make up their minds which) is very, very different in the US than it is in South Africa than it is in Scandinavia. Particularly the Scandinavians - the Fins and Swedes and Norwegians actually get government grants for their games, on the basis that they're considered performance art.

I find myself wondering whether, PT say, would find the Finnish approach bloody stupid, as he sat in a field at 4am in his replica 15th-century underwear wondering when the zombies were coming to eat him? (and when I say zombies, I really mean zombies - usually with better FX than even recent films) And if similar wrangles exist for other "geekish" hobbies... Perhaps that could be used to the advantage of the Geek Hordes?

Purple Tentacle

Quote from: "Still Not George"
I find myself wondering whether, PT say, would find the Finnish approach bloody stupid, as he sat in a field at 4am in his replica 15th-century underwear wondering when the zombies were coming to eat him?

Probably.  It just wouldn't be my cup of tea, any more than paintballing, stamp collecting or going to Doctor Who conventions.

Now please excuse me,  I've just noticed that my DVDs aren't quite in alphabetical order...

Quote from: "Purple Tentacle"
Quote from: "Still Not George"
Now please excuse me,  I've just noticed that my DVDs aren't quite in alphabetical order...

slightly off topic, but I do this too with DVDs and CDs.  However, books must be in descending height order from left to right.  Although, if you have multiple shelves, the next shelf down mus reverse the direction.

Anyone else do this, or am I alone?

Jemble Fred

Quote from: "Claude the Lion Tamer"
QuoteMy friend once suggests that if knowing stuff is sad then surely the coolest person in the world is someone who knows nothing
.

Henry's Cat?

Now hang on – Henry's Cat knew what he knew. I know, because I knew someone who knew what they knew, and they turned out to be Henry's Cat.

You're thinking of Manuel.

Claude the Racecar Driving Rockstar Super Sleuth

Yeah but he didn't know too much about that.