It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here as school began and fall activities ramped up. Unfortunately, bus time has been little, save for the odd errand or short drives. Yesterday, I managed to get Moby out for an hour’s worth of road time and fill the fuel tank. This sojourn, in preparation for a camping trip next weekend, quickly evolved into an exercise preoccupied with dreams of future bus adventures and blog posts. As I drove along thinking about the fact I have, as of yet, not completed the review of projects from last winter, it occurred to me that I need to get cracking lest get too far behind and risk poorly-detailed, hurried descriptions or, dare I say, give up under the guise I no longer have time for a VW blog. When I plunged into the world of blogging I had no idea that it would become a project in itself. Documenting projects and repair processes increases the time required for each task at hand, not to mention the time consuming write-ups!
During my drive, as I contemplated ways to keep this website an enjoyable endeavor and prevent its demise into another project occupying space on the ever growing chore list, I came to the realization that my interaction with the VW community has changed from my younger days. No longer am I able to hit every VW show, swap meet, caravan cruise, or club meeting within a reasonable driving distance so as to exchange expertise, parts, or stories of adventure with others face-to-face. While I am accepting of the fact life changes and have replaced old pastimes with new, family-oriented activities, I miss meeting with VW enthusiasts; gazing over all types of VWs; learning from holding an actual part; witnessing some technical procedure occurring in front of me; the enthusiasm, contagious and ever present at VW events; and, of course, the cacophony of scores of 4-cylinder powerhouses (is this an applicable term for our dearly beloved squirrel driven motors?) echoing across a show field or down a scenic by-way.
This physical interaction is now replaced by the internet – forums, list serves, Facebook clubs, blogs, and parts or technical information vending websites. Is this good? Bad? Hard to say really. This online experience lacks the tangible aspect of parts, cars, and friends, but I find it easier and much more convenient to hold a virtual membership within the online VW community. The internet enables one to secure a much larger, better source for parts, technical data (especially that which was previously only available via micro-fiche and rare books), vehicles for sale, and a sort of virtual camaraderie with people never or infrequently met in the physical sense. I also now find myself with international connections, and, therefore, knowledge gained concerning all things VW that I might otherwise never have known without traveling the world. However, these advantages are not without drawbacks.
The most common complaint concerning the internet is a plethora of opinions, after all everyone has one, and the laborious process of weeding out the good information from the bad. I think these people forget that, at times, conflicting information is just as prevalent in an offline group, but without a commanding physical presence of an individual (or individuals) and visual contact, the internet provides a certain sense of safety which encourages a greater number to reveal their thoughts. In the offline world, respectable or inferior verbal advice is often passed, much like as in the children’s game of “phone”, with each phrase morphing with each repetition. The offline person who thinks themselves an expert on a particular subject after reading a single book is misleading themselves and neglecting that it is the scouring of many points of view, be it text or verbal, that leads to better understanding and mastery. As many poorly written books, some containing false information, exist in this world as excellent versions. The internet is no different; just easier for all to have their say and publish whatever materials they wish, both good and bad. In this medium is also easier to access and stockpile vast quantities of information of various qualities; perhaps creating a plausible impression of a greater fallibility in online content.
It is amazing what one conjures up in a bus while enveloped in the staccato of 4-piston harmony as the world passes (in a not so figuratively manner) by him or her. While I know the days of VW-filled months are gone, I do hope the future finds a few more VW events working their way into the schedule. Whether they do or not, I am content in sitting at my laptop (preferably outside on the deck) searching, reading, and writing when not acquiring a new coat of grease under my fingernails. For better or worse, the internet and, in particular, this blog are my gateways into the greater VW community I would otherwise miss very much, and in the end, I find it is well worth the time spent surfing forums and creating material for Zero to Sixty. It is very satisfying to know the days of “How do I do that?” are few and far between, if not gone all together, now that I have answers a click away. As for Zero to Sixty, the few comments I receive provide a certain sense of communal service as people find assistance for their own projects within the various ramblings I post. I still miss the many hours spent rummaging through parts bins and the more personal interaction found when attending multiple shows or meets, but even though I am not a member in the community in the same manner as I was once, this newer membership in the virtual VW family is proving a worthy, in not invaluable, augmentation.