The Volkswagen scene confuses me. On one end, you have a great deal of camaraderie. Have a blown tire at 1AM? Hit up your local Volkswagen club and you'll likely get a half dozen folks reply offering you some form of assistance. I like that. Not only is it very convenient, but it does foster a welcoming and close group of enthusiasts willing to help. The other? An air of elitism, self importance, and plainly bad mojo. Let me explain myself.
Love Cars, not the Lifestyle
I like a good show car. Really. I really, really do. A car that looks completely bonkers always manages to get my motor running. However, there's a distinct line between loving cars, and using cars as an extension of your personal fame. In the past few years, I've noticed a gradual shift in car culture, particularly in my own age bracket of 18-25 year olds. The Canibeat and Instagram generation, if you will. I'm attempting very hard not to make sweeping generalizations, so I'll keep my grievance as specific as possible.
Keeping it specific to Volkswagens, I've noticed that certain people seem to modify their cars a certain way to garner attention. When does the shift from building a car for yourself to building a car for Instagram fame occur? I wouldn't want to put anyone down for doing so, but isn't that losing touch with being a car enthusiast? When the fame takes over your fundamental love of cars? I'm asking a lot of questions, purely because this article should spark plenty of debate, not only among VW owners, but all makes with younger followings.
Don't Demand Respect, Earn it
Quite frankly, I couldn't care less how much money you've spent on your car. It doesn't command any level of respect from me. I'm sure this statement is bound to make some people extremely mad, but it's completely and utterly true. I've had enough folks attempt to command respect over their $5k wheels and $2.5k air ride setup. That issue is probably more relevant to the Volkswagen scene in particular. Not to say that I don't like a nice set of wheels and air ride; largely it looks extremely fantastic regardless of your views of function vs form. However, you can't just walk around talking about how much you've spent. That doesn't make you sound like an enthusiast, only a monumental douche.
Command respect by being helpful, welcoming, and an all-round nice person. Nobody likes a try hard.
Quit the Generational Elitism
Everyone and anyone will find a way to one up each other, even if the reasons are completely stupid. Have a relevant argument as to why you think one generation did something better over another? Cool. Have at it. I'm all ears for some healthy debate. It's what enthusiasts do. We talk cars. However, don't call someone out for owning a newer car. I absolutely do love older Volkswagens, but I ended up buying a minty new Mk6. Oh the things I've heard. Apparently I have no idea how to drive nor do I know jack shit about cars. Oh dear.
Most of this nonsense, bizarrely, comes not from the aircooled crowd. They tend to be completely awesome. No, this nonsense all stems from the watercooled side of things. Every generation hates the other. If you believed these guys, VW hasn't built a damn good car since the MkI, or II, or III, more or less whatever they own. Get the picture here? It's stupid and divisive and does not create a welcoming community for people just getting into the scene. Lovely.
Be an Adult
Someone insult your car? Turn the other cheek. Think stealing wheels is a good idea? Stop. Now. Gonna beat that guy over comments he said over the internet? Real mature. Yet, I see this pretty often. Guys going completely mad because someone didn't like their wheels or something completely minor. We're in it to have fun with cars, we all take it seriously, but calm down and swallow your pride sometimes. We all get angry and frustrated at times, but it's never mature nor constructive to become internet tough guy.
Not All are that Bad, I Promise
I've met some genuinely awesome people in my three years of owning a Volkswagen. People that have owned all sorts of cars, let alone various generations of Volkswagens. It's a damn good time hanging out with these folks, even if we don't always talk cars. I suppose that for every rotten apple, there are plenty of people that do remind me that it's completely worth it.
This was quite the short article and I'm sure I've missed lots of points/pissed off a lot of people. Luckily, I meant this to be more of a debate article than anything. So! Debate!