As a moderator on a Golf/GTI forum, the past weeks have been overrun with posts like ”THE REAL GOLF MKVII!!” with information inside saying it will have 600 horsepower, 12 transmission options, and the ECU will call the FBI if you attempt to tune it. They are always accompanied by an image that is as authentic to reality as a photo of Sadam’s secret WMD garage.
Lastly, they always link back to a few usual suspects. These are blogs that drive clicks by praying on that very instinct we have to try and find our hidden present. They have goofy names, intrusive advertising, and (until recently) it seemed they all had white or red text on a black background. They are the ones that ran the picture of the Focus RS in Detroit as proof it IS coming here. These are the dregs of automotive ”journalism.”
One of the best things in life is anticipation. From wondering what your parents got you for your birthday; to seeing what girls are in a college class on the first day of the semester; to the moment before your wife walks down the aisle when you are getting married, anticipation is simultaneously one of the most pleasurable and most frustrating emotions we experience. Yet it truly makes the experience so much more exciting.
Some of my strongest memories are when my parents rolling out a Gulf Liveried Pedal Car on an early birthday; or the feeling of excitement realizing a beautiful woman is in one of your classes (only to figure out that you walked into the wrong one, even though you were a senior); to the overwhelming joy of seeing that same woman turn the corner to walk down the aisle to you. All of these events are memorable in their own right, but the addition of that anticipation increase the emotional response tenfold.
Anyone in sales knows this. Float a product as an idea, follow up a short time later with a potential feature set, accidentally show an outline, release the real thing to an anxious public. Automakers are particularly adept at this.
Yet we are impatient. How many times did you try and find your birthday present? Or ask a friend that works in the registrar ”who’s in my class?” Or ask your new sister-in-law ”how does she look?” Enter the automotive render and the speculative blog/forum post.
Now, I love speculation as much as the next (car) guy. Give me some data to work with, I am happy to discuss (at length) what strategic moves company X should take to ensure their survival past a date of Y. Or why company Z would be nuts to not bring (or to bring) a certain vehicle to North America. Often I am wrong, but the conversations can be interesting, engaging, and fun. Yet when I am speculating, I am not presenting this exercise as anything but speculation. It’s not ”I have it on good authority” or ”sources say.” It’s simply speculation, and it should always be presented as such.
Their speculation and images are driven by a desire to increase page views rather than to provide a service. They, frankly, contribute nothing to the community. We can combat their dreck; refute it, ignore it, ridicule it.
Let’s enjoy the anticipation. Let’s wait until our birthday to unwrap that present.