It’s terribly easy on the internet to forget that the lines of text you’re reading on your computer is actually written by a person. It’s only a screen of red, green and blue light emitting dots, so what does it matter if you say what you like, screaming about it not being steampunk? But when you say something isn’t steampunk, you’re doing two things;
Imposing your own interpretation of steampunk on anyone who will read it
Not considering that the text was actually thought of by a person who – just like you – has feelings, a Brain, children, a job, worries and stress. They also have a Heart and you could be breaking it.
Therefore we need to keep this in mind. Approach anyone at a steampunk event and it’s extremely likely that they’re a very friendly person and will welcome you without judgement. So why is it that these same people are tearing others apart when they get behind a keyboard?
In the UK, we have a saying: “Be Splendid” and this is an all encompassing phrase to be used throughout your journey through steampunk, be it posting a new photograph on a Facebook page, answering a question or meeting someone at an event. It’s a wonderful way to conduct yourself and I believe it should be adopted with more gusto by other countries. You may be currently thinking that you are nice to people and wouldn’t want to upset anyone. But if everyone is thinking that, then why do we have a problem?
In order to follow this first guideline, we must appreciate that the person we’re dealing with is a person and not a thing. Be nice to one another, there’s no need to argue. Maybe stay away from the click bait Facebook pages that simply post a photo and ask if it’s steampunk? That behaviour from a steampunk page only serves to anger people as they argue it out and at the same time, they look like they haven’t got a clue about what steampunk is or isn’t. If they don’t know what steampunk is, why are they Admin? Of course, it’s just to engage the readers of the page, but I think it goes about it the wrong way.
It’s entirely possible to admire and encourage new talent. It’s entirely possible to talk to newcomers without telling them what steampunk is. Newcomers need to learn what it means for them, not what it means to you or I, so be polite and welcoming. We’re an incredibly accepting bunch with steampunk, and the people in it, being a bastion of protection against a World that otherwise looks down on some people. Let’s not show the World that we’re just like them, let’s show the World what it’s like to be steampunk.