Respect All Builds — This Needs to Stop
There are two phrases that linger around automotive groups that I absolutely abhor. These phrases are unintelligent rebuttals to a remark that has ultimately cornered the recipient. They are said when somebody either can’t quantify what they did to a car or when somebody just can’t swallow their pride and say, “Yeah, I did something stupid but I like it,” without demanding that other people respect the work that went into their creation. I’m all for doing stupid stuff to cars but I just can’t get behind the cop-outs of “respect all builds” and “at least it’s clean”. It’s undeserved congratulatory gestures like that which diminish automotive development and perpetuate mediocrity within grassroots car culture.
I recently went to a car meet, even though car meets just aren’t my jam, and the air of the meet reinforced the objection I have for the car scene in my area. A lot of car “enthusiasts” around here could care less about lap times, quarter or eighth mile times, which tire is the best within the 200 or 40 tread wear category, how to determine what step forward they need to take in modifying a car, if need be, setting up suspension geometry, or even just generally pursuing automotive knowledge. No, it’s all about street cred and Instagram likes. It’s the attention and recognition most people demand rather than earning any deserved respect.
It’s as if car enthusiasts around here don’t actually like cars but rather, they just crave the human connection they achieve when they get to bond with someone that has the same type of car they have with an equal level of comprehension about said car or cars in general. Let me explain why this is a problem. If you associate yourself with others who don’t push you to grow, then you may very well never progress and as this happens between peers, groups, and the general automotive community then the car scene never develops as ignorance begets ignorance. I’ve briefly been a part of various niche car groups and they’re all just kind of full of themselves. Perhaps not the whole group but certainly the majority. The point here isn’t to shame someone for simply not knowing. The point is to challenge you to not accept everything at face value just because someone doesn’t want to be offended.
Perhaps there’s a separate issue here. An issue that has developed along side social media. Perhaps one the biggest problems in the car community is people who just want attention. Social media has become a stage that we all get to perform on and as a result some people seek achievement from likes, follows, and insta-fame. I’ve had conversations with people who bring up how many followers they have on Instagram because of their vehicle or that they can’t wait to take their stance game to the next level so they can break Instagram. Look at me. That’s all they want. I believe some of the ostentatious vehicle trends we see today have stemmed from this concept because the best way to get attention is to raise eyebrows and create some sort of drama.
What if automotive manufacturers practiced the mantra “respect all builds” within their design and engineer teams? Every idea that is conceived wouldn’t be challenged if everyone is praised for every concept they have, good or bad. From the horse power wars we’ve seen since the birth of the muscle car, to the speed war between motorcycle manufacturers of the late 90s, all the way through the ever lasting dog fight of manufacturers posting the quickest lap time around the Nürburgring, we can clearly see that respect is fought for; it’s earned through research and development to achieve the absolute best. Competition breeds development and the end result is ever evolving technology that we use in the automotive world. Think of the trickle-down effect that Formula 1 and hyper car manufacturers have on consumer level automobiles.
There is more to quantifying a car and I get this. Aesthetics and the yearning to create an object in one’s vision is something that can’t and shouldn’t be quantified. I’ve built some stupid cars in my life and I’ve made modifications that really didn’t make any sort of sense but you know what, I did it simply because I wanted to do it and that was enough for me. I didn’t achieve satisfaction from the approval of faceless avatars on the internet. I didn’t seek feedback from the forums on what my next modification should be. I did something either because I simply wanted to or because I measured and evaluated track times to make the appropriate alteration, if there was a requirement. Demanding respect is a conceited act and stating that “it’s clean though” is a moot point. This is a conversation I witnessed at the aforementioned car meet.
Guy 1: Approaches a Mazda RX-8 with wheels that have outlandishly incorrect offset that do not complement the lines of the car at all and stretched tires. With an underlying tone of sarcasm and disapproval.
Guy 2: Yeah, it’s clean.
Guy 1: It’s definitely not something I would do.
Guy 2: But it’s clean though.
I’ve seen social media groups that strictly enforce the concepts that “everyone is right” and “everyone gets a pat on the back” with admins who banish people that challenge the thought process of others in the group by stating that something is tacky or stupid. Of course the underlying problem is the lack of a thought process that the majority of social media users employ when developing arguments for their point. Instead we end up with simple two-word attacks followed by a “respect all builds” rebuttal from the defendant with no party actually making a valid argument or developing conversation thus perpetuating the narcissistic and fragile group of enthusiasts that tout the “respect all builds” banner.
I’ll step off my soap box now and leave with this: If you’re challenged by a comment, view it as criticism rather than an attack and develop conversation; you might benefit from the challenge. If you’re comfortable with whatever it is you do, cool. Just don’t demand reverence. Respect is a virtue earned not entitled.