"Oh darling, that top does nothing for your tits!"
the hideous screech of pomposity I hear from Trinny of ‘What Not To Wear’ fame. For those of you ourside the UK, or whom have a much more reasonable choice in television, Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine present a show in which self-titled style gurus pounce on the unsuspecting public, ridicule them both verbally and physically about their dress sense and then proceed to tell them “What Not To Wear” in order to make themselves more presentable to the rest of the viewing public.
Firstly, you may obviously realise I don’t appreciate this particular programme, nor would I have any doubts whatsoever in my reaction should the style police accost me in the street. I’m certain I would be more than vocal in my suggestion as to where they could stick an Armani belt. I’m sure many people react in this way; I’d love to see some of those shows.
However, this does not explain what my opinion of a TV show is doing in a respected hardware column. Shows such as 'What Not To Wear', 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' , 'House Doctor' and especially talent shows such as 'Pop Idol' and 'X-Factor' all have regular everyday folks placed in front of experts having their own skills, tastes and opinions judged and, in many cases, destroyed before their very eyes. Many of these people knowingly enter into the lions den, whilst some enter unknowingly but then still agree to be shown. Either way, the whole experience does leave you wondering why these people are so blind as to not realise they’re about to be ridiculed and even worse, argue with the experts even though they’ve solicited their opinion.
"..when you post up your life’s work and it’s, uh, how shall we say? Pants, people seem to only expect their peers to give comments and critique in a tactful and sensitive way."
Here comes the link, see if you can spot it.
We run a project logs and modding forum on our website, members of the public willingly put up their computers, or plans for their computers along with whatever mods and sods they’ve done to them. Now, these aren’t uploaded for their own reference, they’re publicly put up on the Internet for people to comment and advise on. So, herein lies the problem, when you post up your life’s work and it’s, uh, how shall we say? Pants, people seem to only expect their peers to give comments and critique in a tactful and sensitive way. Unfortunately, the world just doesn’t work that way. I used to think Trinny and Susannah were a couple of out-worldly stuck up fashion snobs, but once I had done a little research into other areas where people are given an opinion, I realised that the only reason I think they’re unique is because they’re on television. In reality, everyone’s a critic in some arena or another.
Take a quick browse through some comments on our, or indeed any, forums and you’ll realise that we have a whole wealth of experts quick to judge (albeit without malice) the work of others. Ok, this may seem like I’m digging at our members, but quite the opposite, the finger is pointed squarely at the people who go into this eyes supposedly open, then act surprised when they’re given opinions they may not want to hear. Many forums like ours are really the equivalent of What Not To Wear, we have experts abound who really do know what they’re talking about when it comes to case modding and yet when people are given the bare facts about their mods, suddenly we’re all a bunch of pompus thugs.
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"But Chris, hold on, you were only just moaning about that in the opening paragraph?! Make your mind up whose side you’re on!!" No, you’re quite correct, whilst I said I might not like this attitude if it’s given without being requested, I also agree that if you open yourself up for it, you should be hard nosed enough to take harsh and potentially painful criticism. I would gladly tell the What Not To Wear team Who Not To Mess With, however if I went into it willingly and with the assumption that I was going to come out of this a better dressed geek, I should expect a lot of hard truths I might not like.
In stark contrast to my recent column about people who think they know it all (and don’t), unfortunately there are people on the Internet who very much know what they are talking about and, having been used to dealing with the same question day in, day out, they’re going to be direct and to the point. As much as we all love to hate Simon Cowell (a man even our US cousins will have heard about), once you’ve had to listen to literally thousands of tone deaf wanna-bes who think they can sing, you’re going to be frank and many will walk away from there determined to come back bigger and better for the advice given to them.
"..there are people on the Internet who very much know what they are talking about and, having been used to dealing with the same question day in, day out, they’re going to be direct and to the point."
I have received Email about my columns criticising everything from my writing style, my facts right through to my grammar. However, if I’m going to write publicly, I need to expect this and take them on board so that each time I write an article, I’m hopefully giving people less and less reason to give me a hard time.
So, confused reader my point is this; I see a lot of people feeling hard done by in many forums due to the criticism they have received (constructive or not) and yet they are choosing to post there. They have the opportunity to lurk and see how the ground lies and when they go in and make that first announcement, no matter how “well dressed” they think they are, they’re asking the forum elite their opinion and if they don’t like it, they really ought to develop a thicker skin.
To be fair to anyone on the receiving end, there is also an excessive share of Trolls (people purposely posting inflammatory information to attempt to get a rise out of the victim) and Flamers (Just hard core abuse), however these guys are usually very easily spotted and many are ignored, banned or deleted as expected. If you can spot between a troll and a constructive, but harsh critic you're well on your way to becoming a ruffty-tuffty online Netizen.
It’s a tough world out there, so be dressed to impress.