Awright, here's my dime's worth:
Rick, thanks-- I'm much obliged for your level-headed approach.
I grew up in a tiny Appalachian community which had a full complement of eccentrics and hard-headed Scots-Irish mountain folks along with a few Indians whose ancestors managed to dodge the relocation to Oklahoma. If I could survive to maturity in that community amongst the snake-handlers, moonshiners, trotline rustlers, and assorted other individuals, I reckon that Mudcat can't fling anything on me that I can't handle. Let me say also that, while I often wish the Mudcat had not changed to the extent it has, I have tried to adjust to its evolution, and that, while I am deeply disturbed at what I consider to be the dippiness and the shallow nature of much of what goes on, I manage to (a) remind myself that it is a community, and (b) refrain from expressing my frustration and disappointment on the open forum.
The place is different now. When I first discovered the Mudcat about four years ago, it was a fellowship of music. There was a bit of light banter now and then, and many of us entered into it, but it was about music. At the time it was as if I had entered a room in which there were a number of folks who were enamored of the music I loved as well as the traditions I revered. Either through onstage experience or extensive scholarly research, many of those present brought important insights, evaluations, lessons, or suggestions to the forum, and we all benefited from the discussions. Every day, practically, new folks entered the room with questions and/or problems related to music, and the cadre there tried to answer them or give them advice. Gradually, some folks arrived who were not as interested in the music, and the conversations began to wander away from the topics so many of us enjoyed. First thing we knew, the music, the traditions, the performance styles,--all these things had seemingly become peripheral, and the foolishness, which seemed to increase in volume as the tone of the discussions lowered, dominated. Naturally we were, at first, confused; then some became angry. Eventually, many of the original group left or lurked on the outskirts. The room now seemed to be filled with folks whose primary interest was something other than the music which had brought us there in the first place. It was upsetting.
I don't plan to leave anytime soon, and I'm not going to go out to the truck and get my pick-handle and start swinging; I'll tolerate everybody who enters, because this ain't my house, after all, and I'm proud to be here under any conditions. I miss many of the folks who aren't around anymore, but I also enjoy some of the newcomers and the jackassery that they brought in with them. I'll listen to the banter, although I usually don't care to join in. But I can't pretend to be thrilled about the difference, and folks don't need to beat me over the head with clichés about change. And don't try to make into a myth the fact that, once, a good while back, this was a different place; maybe better, maybe not, but different. I'll try to adjust to the new folks, but that damn sure works both ways, and it can be done with some degree of civility.