Forum Withdrawal – Some Clarification

As I wrote two days ago, I’m withdrawing from forum work – somewhat/ quite a bit/ mostly. This seems to have caused some confusion, so allow me to add some more thoughts to this.

Withdrawal and withdrawal are two different things. I never meant to just abandon everything completely overnight, but rather to cut back by 90% or so. I have been patrolling forums almost every day in those last few years and tried to help, but ultimately it was all too much. As with most things I do – when I’m commited, I’m commited and perhaps I simply tried to do too much and then it spun out of control. Typical OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), if you will. Now you could get all philosophical and pull quotes along the lines "I wanted to do more when I should have done better" (Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5, Season 3, Episode 15, "Interludes and Examinations") and it may cover the facts from one side of the street, but there’s another, uglier side to this.

As I’ve written in my rant, I get the distinct impression that we live in a age of button pushers. There are just too many people who neither understand the artistic side of things, nor the technical aspects of our work. Simply because they think it’s cool and these days you can do things on a mobile phone you couldn’t do with a computer 10 years ago, doesn’t mean they should. We’ve all been beginners at some point, but if someone cannot even grasp the basic concepts of a program like After Effects or the differences between building a design template for a website in Photoshop and "proper" web design with other tools, then I can’t help but feel that those people should do other things with their lives.

That is compounded by the fact, that it seems that some people are not really on a quest for knowledge and understanding, but rather on the hunt for a quick buck. I find it amazing, how someone, who goes all fancy with calling himself CEO in his profile signature, is making a business based on other people providing help for free. And before you think anything of it: Students, who ask others to do their thesis project on the eve of their exams or use Andrew Kramer’s projects for their reels are not an inch better. Neither are kids asking for skate videos or clan logos or charities asking to get their invitation cards done for free. They all try to look good at other people’s expense.

It also really puzzles me, how little generic understanding of computers people have. Okay, I would trust my mom to nuke the entire Internet by clicking on that one most dangerous link, but I would expect people, who work in professional graphics design programs, to at least know how to configure their start menu. In the end, it gets all too frustrating since you don’t even speak the same language. How should you explain to someone how to make his programs behave, when he doesn’t even know what computer he actually has ("It’s a Mac." – yeah, so what?)?

These and many other things have compelled me to take an exit turn before I really start shouting at people. I’ve always liked to help others and share what little knowledge I can offer, but I expect the other side to show some initiative, too. That latter part has been severely missing lately and it all became rather one-sided. What should have been conversations, turned into endless monologues asking the same questions over and over without ever getting answers. You know, shouting into the void of a sort…

Anyway, to return to my original point: I’m not completely gone. I will, however, be extremely picky in which discussions I even begin to participate and these better be good. I won’t grind myself up in questions about basics again. I may throw out some quick answers on a good day for that, too, but on most other days probably not. Saves all sides the trouble. The geeky stuff I will still jump on as I will on truly inspirational discussions about techniques and artistic approaches, of course. And one thing more: I think I will let go of all this Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Encore nonsense. It’s not that I don’t know these things, I just care even less…

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