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Thread: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    Recently, a couple of users of FPGeeks have notably expressed their desire to remain internet anonymous, fearing contact with other fountain pen enthusiasts following suggestions about attendance at pen shows. It is a sad state of affairs that the internet, and more specifically forums and certain social "platforms," foment such isolation, enabling a state of mind that sees real human contact as threatening.

    As an aside, yesterday I read an article about internet technology that draws from 2,400-years-old wisdom, published in the New York Times in the wake of revelations about Facebook's shameful behavior. It’s worth a read if, as I do, you like that sort of thing: How Plato Foresaw Facebook’s Folly

    Anyway, pen shows and pen groups continue to be places of face-to-face meeting, of forming friendships, of confirming relationships and lastly, of finding pens, parts and services. Yes, eBay has encroached on much of the buying and selling, but in my opinion, there’s more to this (and most any other) hobby than just the objects of interest. It’s about us, too. The internet side of the fountain pen hobby is a very useful information tool, but it is a poor substitute for the human interaction offered by pen shows. Lastly, pen shows have the effect of dispelling fallout from bad internet behavior. There are some who've misbehaved terribly on internet pen forums, yet at pen shows they've shown contrition; the reality of human interaction seems to convert them to mellow pen enthusiasts, much like the rest of us.

    Meanwhile, you won't find me on Facebook. If you like, contact me and we can correspond until we meet at a pen show. Oh, and then there's the Central Penn Pens group that meets informally...once in a blue moon. It's about people...who just happen to like messing about with fountain pens.

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    FPG Donor ♕ Chrissy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    One day I hope to meet some friends I've made on this forum. It's on my bucket list of things to do. Until then I'm happy to correspond.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens | FPG Ink Review Index

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows


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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    Fred, my interest in the interpersonal side of electronic communication has interested me for a long time, longer than the net. You and I are a good example: we've only 'met' here, online, but I think we are good friends and have broadened our connection through mail, both e- and postal. Yet we've not met in the 'real' world, something we will correct before too many years.

    In all this time, it has come to seem to me that *how* people respond to all of this is a reflection of the kind of people they are already. I understand that it may be easier for some people to converse and connect when somewhat hidden by the anonymity of the medium. A shy person, or someone averse to crowds, would naturally feel ill-at-ease about attending a large gathering like a pen show. Even a gregarious guy like me was taken aback at my first show, but I had been in forums for a year or two and people's comments prepared me for a bit about what it would be like. I now am very happy that I have pen friends gathered from MANY sources: forums, mailing lists, local pen club, Facebook, at the two shows that are the only shows I've ever attended (for a few years now). It has been a healthy mix.

    It is very probable that is isn't for everyone, but meeting pen people out in the non-virtual world is a very enriching experience.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    Fred-
    I also find it interesting that the Internet forums have many pen show experts that have yet to attend a show.

    I’m reminded of the Doc’s closing line on so many show reports...”Get thee to a pen show baby”
    Farmboy

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    Just in case you meet Jon in person, his self-portrait avatar picture doesn’t do him justice.

    Jon now shaves, he uses prescription RayBans, and often sports a proper collar and tie.

    Pants are still optional so he can be easy to spot...

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    For me, it's a case of I have 'been there and done that'. Played the role of the social butterfly, dealt with the customers and generally interested in the hobby like most would. I've come back to the hobby/ebay sales because i missed it and I need something to do that will make a few bucks through the winter until it warms up again and I can go back to my primary job.

    I may come off looking like an ass, but frankly, i am tired of dealing with customers and people in general. No pressures, no deadlines and as little stress as possible. I only want a quiet life with my wife and dogs out here in the country far away from everyone and everything. I do enjoy sharing my knowledge in the forums and private messages, but for in person meet ups, not interested in the slightest. As far as my anonymity goes, i'm not hiding, i jut don't advertise.

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    Senior Member VertOlive's Avatar
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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    For me, my reasons for not attending shows are a mixed bag. In the main, I am completely "peopled out" after a week of picking up the dead in whatever awful state we find them and then accompanying the family in their grief. Any spare time I have is used to find some respite with my dog or some Latin study.

    I can barely write a letter that doesn't sound like an episode of Six Feet Under anymore, much less chat about pens with light hearted people.

    Then there's the fact we live hundreds of miles from Anywhere Else and I can't be spared from our Mom'n'Pop operation.

    So: exhaustion and opportunity, not so much hiding.
    “Non nobis solum nati sumus." ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    As this thread is partly aimed in my direction I should offer some response.

    Firstly, it ought to be noted that I am not an asocial person (even though naturally shy) and love a good dinner party. Furthermore in my work I have many duties that require interaction both individually (testing and interviewing participants in research studies, as well as professional collaborators) and collectively (moderating focus groups among professionals and non-professionals). I even have, though I blush to recount it here, a reputation for being good at engaging with particular demographic groups.

    However, there are some sticking points.

    1. People on the forum often have very rigid views of other members. Obviously (in my case) the germination of such opinions is my own fault, but failure to move beyond those opinions when I have made efforts to correct my multitude of errors is the responsibility of the individual members. The signs are discouraging at best.

    2. Meeting me in real life, would be one-sided: i.e. of possible value to me but not the other party. I would not wish to waste anyone's time, and a waste it would be.

    3. I've heard rumours of the rapaciousness of pen show attendees. To someone who just wants to calmly browse and examine stuff, this is quite off-putting. It also jars when placed alongside the oft repeated claim that fountain pen people are somehow a politer group.

    4. Having already raised the ire of many people (see point 1) I do not seek to become a target for those who wish to drag their perceived grievances into a real life setting.


    People here decry the concerns I have voiced. Mostly this is because they fail to take into account that the only data I have is from the internet. Using only this data - i.e. what I witness on forums like these - I have to draw conclusions (as accurate or not as they may be).
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; November 18th, 2018 at 05:07 AM.

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    I think you should stop analyzing the internet, stop fishing for validation, and go to a pen show before you express opinions of what happens at a show and how the attendees behave.

    Book the trip.
    Pass will be at the front desk.

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    Assuming that our flights and stopovers work as we planned (and the travel agent doesn't think this will be a problem), we will be at the show on one of the days for a short time, on our own dime.

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    My experience is that trying to meet anyone at a pen show (or any other similar craft shows) is mostly doomed to failure without rigorous planning and mobile phone reception! Let alone recognising someone accidentally when you have no idea what they look like. (If they're a vendor you have more chance!) Name badges only help if you're close enough to read them without staring too much

    I go, I stare at pens, try inks, buy things and go home again. I might speak to a couple of people if they're talking about something I know about in earshot, or ask me something, but I won't know who they are.

    To actually join a group who do meet up at a pen show, I think online organising outside it is necessary unless you happen to stumble upon them there and are gregarious enough to become part of it.

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    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    I really enjoy going to my local pen posse meetings. Lots of great people who don't mind (and actively encourage) me geeking out over pens and inks. I'd love to meet any of you in person.

    Sorry, didn't read the whole thread. But I'm finding online only life to be really depressing. I grew up before all that. But I'm a computer nerd. So normally I've maintained a balance between virtual and IRL.

    As I get older I find it increasingly difficult to make acquaintances unless we share interests (and I have plenty but still the overlaps are limited, and also I get a little overly interested in my hobbies lol). I just don't feel like talking about superficial crap or things I'm uninterested in.

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    I love the shows. Love em.

    A pen show is one of the only places I can engage practically anybody I see and turn them into a new pen friend.

    I can fake extroversion for a day or two, or at least a couple hours at a time.

    Lots of the people I meet I've run into online, here or on FB or Instagram, so that makes it easy to connect about whatever.

    But seriously, if a stranger at a pen show asked you about your pens, you'd probably talk to them, and be glad they asked.
    I've never (and I'm over 40) seen this kind of fish-in-a-barrel environment for making real life friends.

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    Pen shows are a few things that I look forward to attending each year.

    Before you think that I am a social butterfly and just thrive in the midst of crowds, let me just put a pause right there.

    Most of the time I much prefer quiet time over parties.

    And much to my surprise, I found so many pen show attendees (and vendors) who fit that description also. Of course there are extrovert people who are the life of the parties and I am grateful to be able to meet them and for their presence, but for the most part, I find man and woman who are quiet on the outside, but shimmering with intelligence and insights once I connected with them.

    The connection here of course is spurred by the fact that we all like fountain pens and the hobby surrounding it, but I was surprised at what that connection could lead to after the show is over. Online correspondence, being in the same forum, is different and has more depth once you encounter the person in person.

    And I can see this not only from my own personal experience, but I witness friendships that formed over pen shows that lasted decades.

    So am I just lucky? Never bump into the "dark side" of the pen show?
    I don't believe so.

    Give it a chance, is all I'm saying.
    - Will
    Sketches with restored vintage fountain pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    I think I live at least half a continent away from the nearest pen show, which means all of my fountain pen related conversations have to be done online. This is hard - I am definitely an extrovert and feel that my true personality doesn't really come through online. As my husband likes to tease me, I write like I'm writing a technical report and don't come off as being particularly friendly. But, these are the cards I've been dealt for the time being, so I aim to try and participate as much as I can in the online community until my job affords me the opportunity to move somewhere close to other fountain pen enthusiasts.

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    I would not mind meeting people in real life even if I am an introvert by nature. I have met some local-to-me pen people and it was a blast.
    Fountain Pen Sith Lord | Daakusaido | inktronics blog | Twitter | Instagram

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    Bottom line: pen shows can be, should be and are a great deal of fun. There are extraordinarily wonderful and kind people involved in this particular passion and they are there - some behind a table, some on the other side. I gathered info and made friends, exclusively online, for 2-3 years before I made it to my first pen show. I wish I had done it as soon as possible. Here's a write-up on just one of those shows:

    The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    I made it to my first pen show last year, in London. It was overwhelming at first (*so* many pens and lots of people) but I took my time, went for a coffee, then headed back once I had got an idea of how the show worked.

    I didn't speak to many people, since I didn't know anyone, but those I did speak to (vendors or otherwise) were always pleasant. It was wonderful to see so many men, women and children of all backgrounds enjoying the same things as me.

    This year I went back and had an even better time, partly because I know more, but also because I met up with a forum friend. It's nice to speak to real people rather than internet people. I had a great time, even though I didn't buy a single fountain pen.

    Different people had different approaches to the pen show - some where super-serious, some where incredibly excited, some where big spenders, others spent little. There's no right way, and the variety adds to the fun.

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    Default Re: Internet versus Reality - pen forums versus pen shows

    I once toyed with the idea of attending the pen show in Columbus, Ohio. Then I thought about the two-hour drive and the $25 entrance fee. I don't begrudge the fee; I know hiring the venue costs money. It is just that, for that much money, I could go to the local flea market and buy 5 well-designed pens and spend the drive time (and more) restoring and testing them. Meeting a gang of pen freaks can't compete with that.
    Written on a real computer and real keyboard with capital letters, punctuation, and everything.

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