"Son, have a seat, we need to have a talk." Those are words no young person wants to hear from their father or grandfather. Today the "Son" in question is the world of traditional wet shaving.
I've seen such dynamic situations played out many times over the past 50 years. I've even heard my elders express an opinion about such situations and I didn't realize it until I was much older. Growing pains, the progression from one stage to another, going from small and insignificant to full functioning and full grown and fully productive adulthood. You know the situation. A young lad or lass is approaching those pre-adolescent years and in the beginning stage of puberty...the transition to adulthood. They are old enough to know a few things about life and at times can possibly even pass for being much older if the growth hormones have kicked in. Of course just the possibility of passing as older than their years is an ever present, heart felt desire and fantasy. They can usually read pretty well and have a wealth of information available to them. The mysteries of the universe is at their fingertips and they cannot wait to experience everything.
We've all been there and we continue to see little copies of ourselves during this awkward stage every day. Sometimes you can't help but chuckle as you observe their struggles and yet at other times all you can do is just shake your head in dismay. They are starting to form their own ideas and thoughts and of course believe that no one has ever done that before and they are the first to experience it. Those first few steps independent of parents are so powerful they soon lead to the belief that their elders are idiots and full fledged rebellion sets in. But in this early stage young boys want to be like their fathers and young girls like their mother. Young boys want to shave and young girls want to wear make up.
Fantasies of what it would be like to be older, to be grown up, to be an adult are constant. This is normal and nothing to be concerned about unless they begin to actually believe the fantasies and believe themselves to be full functioning adults. This is where the trouble comes into play and our media driven society doesn't help much by propelling youth into pre-mature behaviors and attitudes. The media has sold the fantasy and young minds believe it and want it to be reality so strongly that they quickly outgrow their ability and capacity to handle the situation. My folks had a phrase for this situation and it's too bad we don't hear it much anymore: "Young man you've grown a little too big for your britches." I know I heard that admonition a time or two. Young girls heard it too but sometimes with another word or two substituted for "britches" such as "bloomers" or "panties" or "bonnet". It's such an old fashioned phrase and doesn't translate well into our modern culture, which is really too bad since it completely communicates the dynamics of the situation.
Being too big for one's britches means a couple of things. It could mean that shear physical growth is pushing the boundaries and the simple appearance of adult-likeness outpaces the emotional growth and maturity level. It could also mean that certain attitudes and verbal expressions (being cocky or smart mouthed) far exceeds ones proper place in the total scope of things into being disrespectful, foolish, and arrogant and falling into the realm of being what another old phrase expresses as "being full of oneself". Both pre and full blown adolescents enjoy testing out these types of behaviors and attitudes. Being rebellious and wanting so desperately to be a full functioning adult but not quite getting there by anyone's standards but their own.
Parents used to correct their children more frequently when they swam into these deep and dangerous waters but sadly many no longer do so having been conditioned by political correctness and media conditioning that such "correction" is bad for the developing psyche. Just spend a few hours in the social media world and you see the result of this type of "parenting" everywhere. Rude behavior, cocky attitudes, the wide spread sense of entitlement, arrogance, self absorption, narcissistic focus and rampant justifications for whatever may be offensive, ignorant or cruel. Blame is always with the other guy and self examination an activity rarely seen. In other words, the world is seeing an epidemic of those who have "grown too big for their britches" and without any parental correction in sight everyone feels free to cut lose and "show their little butts" to the world with passion and amplified frequency.
I hear many of you saying, "So what does that have to do with traditional wet shaving?" My response is that it has a lot to do about traditional wet shaving because that is exactly where we are as a social trend and epitomizes the total growth and development of the "movement" in the total scope of things. Traditional Wet Shaving as a whole (group) has reached the level of growth and development to equal a pre-adolescent or maybe an adolescent child with a long way to go before reaching adulthood. Without self imposed introspection and correction, history may never see traditional wet shaving as anything more than a fad, niche market obsessed with nostalgia, or 50 years from now no longer know it even existed.
This situation I believe has been expressed in several ways. Over the past year I have seen signs that the wet shaving world and in particular the traditional wet shaving world has reached a critical mass of growth. We are at a crisis point and at the cusp of great things to come or a crumbling and rotting decay from within. It is difficult to see unless you step back from the narrow tunnel vision with which we have been conditioned to view our world by the 15-30 second sound bite mass media. In general the business world is trained to look at things in quarter year segments (quarterly bottom line profits). Shortsightedness does not ultimately lead to survival.
The internet is a strange beast. The futurists are telling us that soon Facebook will go away and be replaced by some other instant messaging medium. The youth of today are abandoning Facebook, therefore as a communication medium it is only a matter of time before it is dead according to some. Granted I don't keep track of the up and coming social media trends and really don't know but from what little I have seen the new trends seem to be moving backward instead of forward. Like going from sending emails to a type of instant messaging that disappears within a few minutes. But that's the trend. Wipe out history. If it isn't happening right now, it's not real and it's irrelevant.
In traditional wet shaving society we have seen a lot of development over the past year. An early Facebook group Badger and Blade that started as an internet forum, expanded into Facebook and then left FB to return to their roots. What started as a method of interaction and communication within the traditional wet shaving world has been transformed into nothing more than another profit driven media vehicle. There are a few other traditional staples of internet communication in the shaving world that have moved from being educational or interactive in nature with a few products tacked on as convenience to being primarily commercial ventures. This progress very quickly removes the free flow of information and significantly decreases the educational and honest information sharing aspects.
There are several other Facebook groups and quite frankly I don't have the time or space to mention all of them, they have become so numerous. I will mention one. The Big Shave, which I joined over a year ago and has been a very important part of my development in the shaving world and an very important avenue to gain "shaving buddies" and personal friends. It has quickly grown from a membership numbering in the hundreds to what will soon be thousands of members. Due to this growth it has evolved and become less "intimate" and "friendly". There are so many messages popping up it is hard to sort through the good from the simply attention seeking. Consequently as a result of the "growth" of these two Facebook/internet shaving groups there have been multiple other groups formed. Most are quite small and inter-group bickering and rivalry abounds. All very adolescent in nature.
One of the reasons I agreed to start writing this blog at the suggestion of Scott Pavkovich was to create a place where information could be shared and a history created so that a new traditional wet shaver could come to learn and discover about traditional wet shaving without all of the "noise" that occurs in social media. Primarily it is one voice, mine, but I hope it is a voice of reason instead of a hyped up voice of marketing and half-truths.
I am seeing more and more "situations" popping up where product producers are trying to be a "presence" in the social media world. Those who attempt to interact with customers in social media are in my opinion doomed for failure and will do nothing more than sully their reputation. Some have already done significant damage to their product lines for many people simply due to perceptions about their personalities independent of their product. Products stand or fall on their quality and usefulness to the customer regardless of the "hype" presented about them short term. Businesses stand or fall based on the quality of their customer service and the long term relationship forged with their customers, yet so many cannot be "bothered" in meeting a customer's individual needs. It takes too much time. Interaction in social media by a business to either "hawk" their wares, have others "spread the word" or to otherwise influence the marketplace and "mold the message" in their favor in a pushy or self focused manner are doing nothing more than presenting themselves as spoiled small league star athletes who cannot imagine anyone not loving them in the professional league ranks. Sharing information is one thing. Whipping up "buzz" is something quite different and unbecoming to the consumers in the final analysis. There's another old phrase that describes the adolescent efforts of product producers to gain "followers" based on an unnatural progression in the "word of mouth" marketing scheme of things. The phrase that comes to mind is "That Dog Won't Hunt".
Yes, I am an "old fart". I am not young anymore. My mind and ego wants to convince me that I am still young but my achy and too fat body tells me in definite terms that I'm not as young as I used to be. I don't understand fully how the youth of today think or feel. There are aspects of what they are going through that I understand because I went through a similar chain of events...we all have or will. My talents and skills have always been geared to gathering information and putting it into a "big picture" framework. Seeing the big picture in a world that values the 15 second sound bite is very frustrating at times. Loving history the way I do when the modern trend is it to re-write history to suit the expedient current situation is also quite frustrating and disturbing.
The traditional wet shaving world is at a crossroads. More and more people are discovering the benefits and joys of using double edge safety razors, soap and brush lathering, classic and manly colognes and after shaves. Small shop artisan product producers are coming into their own and making better and more balanced products. Sadly I don't see the big market players doing much to more specifically address the growing traditional wet shaving world's wants or needs, but do you blame them. Most adults try to ignore their rebellious teenagers until they have proven themselves to be mature and productive. Traditional wet shaving has a lot more growing and maturing to do to fully gain the attention of the world at large. Adolescent temper tantrums and stunts don't help much either.
These are my observations. Take 'em or leave 'em. I thank you for reading my blog and watching my videos. This past year has been wonderful as we have gotten to know one another. I urge and request that you subscribe to this blog and to my YouTube channel. Sharing them with your friends via social media is both welcomed and appreciated. You are the heart and soul of traditional wet shaving. How you use and respond to it will determine its future. We can survive a rocky adolescence and emerge into adulthood but the question is whether or not traditional wet shaving becomes a larger societal phenomenon and force or will it devolve into nothing more than an insignificant niche market.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe