I have come to the conclusion that the worst thing about Stamp Collecting is….stamp collectors.
I take the Groucho Marx approach to joining clubs. Memorably, Groucho said that he wouldnt join a club that would have him as a member.
There are two ways to go about Stamp Collecting…operate under the radar as an individual or ….join a club. As a general rule, I avoid groups. Although I am a very sociable person, I actually like very few people in the hobby. Perhaps they remind me too much of myself.
Sadly few young people are involved in collecting. Most people are as old as I am….64 years old. And if I have learned one thing as I get older…..it is that people over 60 are very boring and opinionated people. And the realisation that I might be one of them annoys me greatly.
Of course, it is also true to say that (in Britain and Ireland at least), Stamp Collecting is also very male-orientated and that compounds the irritation.
Groups tend to produce a “group think” and there is a tendency for a dominant narrative to emerge which can at times embarras people who hold a minority view. Groups are not just about a specific subject matter …the nature of social inter-action is that people….ie elderly men talk about things such as History and Politics.
Take another hobby in which I am interested…Militaria. It should be about the memorabalia, the artefacts of military history. But to its enthusiasts, it is often a worship of war itself, dubious ethics of buying and selling items looted on the battlefield and an unhealthy interest in Nazism and the American Confederacy. Is it really possible to admire the artefacts of the Third Reich and the Confederate States of America without buying into the anti-Semitism and Racism of those awful regimes, which belong in the dustbin of History.
So…being involved in the rather childish hobby of collecting Toy Soldiers has meant I have spent too much time with SOME people who are (to use a current phrase) “a basket of deplorables”.
Of course, it could be argued that Stamp Collecting is a much more benign and neutral activity. Well, yes it should be. But the “nostalgia factor” means that too often, collectors hark back to a simpler view of imperialism and “French North Africa”, “Indian States” etc. The bizarre obsession that the hobby has with the English “royal” family and the marriages, anniversaries, births and deaths featured on the covers of magazines is a turn-off to many people.
The current narrative in United States of “making America great again” is a noisy, dominant narrative that marginalises Reason itself. Best not to hear it in stamp clubs or online stamp communities.
The “group think” is a deterrant to joining groups. And paradoxically the societies and clubs struggle to promote Stamp Collecting.