On The Pitfalls, Downfalls, And Upfalls Of Internet Gurus
When I started my Instagram account about a year and a half ago (yes, I know, I’m late), I received a message asking if I wanted to sell it. Out of curiosity I asked how much the person was willing to pay. He replied $100-$150. Wow, I really felt loved.
But Instagram is a great way to feel immediate love from your peers and other aficionados, that’s for sure.
I remember in the early days of TimeZone and ThePurists when you posted a question you had to wait a few days until someone would answer you. And that answer was often detailed and knowledgeable.
With the growth of these two forums came the guys with pompous writing styles, though – making it so that you needed to look up half the words just to understand what they were saying. And once you finished reading the five lines of verbal abuse that came thereafter, you realized that the answer to your question was basically that the poster had no idea if a free-sprung balance was superior to an index regulator or not!
But it got worse.
Then came the guys who had no idea what a free-sprung balance was, but posted ten times a day or more with content that included calling watchmakers and brand CEOs by their first names. With time, these became the forum members with the highest number of posts, and they acted like mighty Zeus standing on Mount Olympus distilling knowledge to the thirsty masses.
Today, we would probably describe all of these categories of forum posters as internet gurus. The problem being that only the first ones I described actually knew what they were talking about; the others were just using up bandwidth.
But it seems to me that with the explosion of social media, this has seriously gotten out of hand!
Now, any cretin with a smartphone and a Tumblr, Instagram or – God forbid – Snapchat account can go around posting anything they like. And more often than not, they are dishing out wrong information, which people then take for the truth.
They, in turn, pass that information on. And, no, the Vacheron Constantin Americain 1921 is NOT a “driver” watch!
In the old days (I’m talking really old . . . like early 2000s), watch journalists hated forums because the latter were run by enthusiasts, “Who are not journalists and as such do not have the analytical angle.”
This is practically verbatim what an angry journalist (who now has a blog, by the way) told me as he furiously exited when I asked how much analytical angle one needed to copy/paste a press release!
We live in an era where for the WIS there has never been so much information – and so much erroneous information. This is an era where there are almost as many self-appointed internet gurus as there are Instagram accounts and where a watch or brand is scorching hot until a new internet guru gets paid by another brand, and the said scorching-hot watch all of a sudden becomes the cheesiest.
We are living in difficult times, my WIS friends.
These are times in which we don’t know where to turn to get the information we are looking for. Gurus are pompous, self-righteous, and ignorant, but they can also perhaps be sexy and glamorous.
The authentic watch experts are paunchy middle-aged men (okay, there are a few women too) who can make you wish you were deaf once they start waxing lyrical on the benefits of vertical clutches and 35 mm case sizes; they know the specificities of every Landeron chronograph movement in existence and have cats named Kari and Philippe!
And you know what? A bit of both is great. Watches don’t need to be all about the hand finish or the merits of high-beat escapements. Nor do they need to be considered like the status symbols they become when you party with a group of skimpily clad, tight-bodied “girlfriends” in Las Vegas.
What about the idiots who just post a lot on forums and act like they know everything? Well, they’re the worst kind because they are neither sexy nor do they know sh*t from Shinola. So just ignore them.
About a month ago I got a message from a person who wanted to buy my Instagram account and was asking how much I wanted for it. I asked the guy to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
His offer would have allowed me to get my dream vintage Daytona and leave me with some pocket money to boot!
I refused him, though, because I’m in this for fun.
Say what?!?! C’mon, it was flattering. VERY flattering even, and my ego was surely boosted.
But just because I post a lot of photos it doesn’t make me an expert! I mean, I could go around every day taking photos of cars in the street and I still wouldn’t know the difference between automatic and stick shift.
My Instagram account is certainly glamorous and sexy, yet I have a paunch and my cat is named Kari. So I guess that makes me a rare breed: the expert internet guru!
Also published on Medium.