Top Pickers

Whenever I’m working away from home there are some habitual behaviours I tend to slip into that, at home, you’d never catch me doing. There are, for example, TV viewing habits I adopt that are alien to my normal way of life.

To begin with, I don’t possess a TV at home, which in these days of on demand Internet entertainment doesn’t necessarily preclude me from enjoying the occasional foray into TV territory, but does mean that I’m somewhat insulated from the wider populace in terms of viewing habits and current trends; and when I do feel the draw of televisual stimulus, it’s invariably on my terms and tailored to my own tastes, preferences and timings.

Not so when I’m away, sealed inside an anonymous, soulless hotel room, with little to entertain me other than calculating just how many cups of tea I can eke out of a single, individually packaged, tea bag and whatever might be available on the room’s TV set. It’s at this point that I tend to develop square eyes – or, more accurately, 16:9 eyes! My choice of viewing however is limited to a very narrow subset of the options avaliable: Top Gear, Taskmaster, American Pickers, and any of those blue light, fly on the wall, shoulder-cam programmes that seem to fill the schedules after a certain time of the evening.

I suppose it’s a bit of an odd mix and whilst I don’t have any problem rationalising the attraction of the TM and 999 stuff, the other two are really something of an enigma… I’m not entirely sure why watching a trio of idiots driving cars I will never own, in a manner I will never have the opportunity to do myself should be in any way entertaining, let alone addictive, (especially considering I’ve seen most of them before). Similarly, I’m not really sure what the attraction of watching a couple of American blokes negotiating over a piece of rusty junk might be… All I know is that it’s one of the few things I look forward to when I’m away. Oddly, I don’t even bother with any of these hotel night staples when I’m back at home – but then again, I’ve plenty of other things to fill my time when I am home, and watching the goggle box isn’t particularly high on my list of priorities.

So, what is the attraction?

Certainly the subject matter may have something going for it – I mean  everyone likes fast cars being driven crazily, and rusty 1940s oilcans, don’t they? But there’s more to it than that, and after some thought, I think I know wherein the real attraction lies.

Both Top Gear and Pickers are less concerned about the subject matter, than they are about the central characters. The real entertainment comes from engaging and empathising with the slightly crazy, but unequivocally enthusiastic presenters.

I love enthusiasts.

I don’t care what you’re enthusiastic about – whether it’s fast cars, Stephen King, Star Trek or tropical plants, what makes your subject of choice compelling is the way in which you approach it, and if you approach it with unrestrained enthusiasm, then you’re my kind of person.

You’re also the kind of person that tends to find that SL is the perfect vehicle for expressing your enthusiasm, because here is a world with few constraints, in which almost anything is possible and where the chances of finding a kindred spirit with whom you can share your enthusiasm is unparalleled. SL is chock full of music geeks, alternative lifestylers, collectors and hoarders, obsessives and nerds, and the way they express themselves in the virtual world is limitless. And it is because of this that SL is such a rich environment.

If it wasn’t for the enthusiasts, we wouldn’t have biker chapters in SL; Bladerunner themed regions wouldn’t exist; dance clubs would play only generic, radio music – mod, soul, trance and industrial music clubs would be absent from the grid; nobody would make bondage gear; we wouldn’t have sailing clubs, railways and airports… SL would be a barren, empty, half-hearted simulation of a real world that would be infinitely less appealing to the vast majority of us.

However, that’s not the case. Few of us would argue – even if our real lives are completely fulfilling – that there is not something compelling about the virtual world, and what is compelling is the enthusiasm with which so many approach the virtual world. It’s a fascinating place because people pour their heart and soul into it and invest so much of their time and energy into making it an expression of what matters to them, and that’s something I can really relate to, even if it’s not really my thing. When Mike and Dave successfully negotiate a cracking price for a old porcelain garage sign, I’m not caught up in the moment because I’m a sign aficionado, I’m grinning because I’m caught up in the sheer joy that’s expressed in their faces and the real enthusiasm they have for their business… And I experience that same enjoyment of the moment time after time in SL.

I hope you do too!

s. x

I don’t know what you’re looking for
You haven’t found it baby, that’s for sure
You rip me up, you spread me all around
In the dust of the deed of time
The Cardigans – My Favourite Game

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