Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lord of the Trolls
By in large I try to stay away from commenting on news coming out of Saab Automobile. In general, it would be an impropriety, and besides, there are lots of other venues for such comment. I would prefer to spend the little time I have for composition writing about product or spinning yarns about the Saab experience.
In the past days there has been some troubling news—delayed salary payments to white-collar workers—from Saab which has been reported widely. I will state up front that I am still optimistic about where this will all end up. I do not believe that anybody at Swan or Saab is endeavoring to do anything other than to solve all the various challenges and get their ship righted. I also do not believe that Victor Muller intended for anything other than full on success for Saab, or he would not have embarked on what he knew would be an arduous journey.
Some time back I had decided to stop living and dying by the day to day, hour to hour news flashes coming out of Trollhattan. It was too distracting, too upsetting. I have a job to do, customers to be served, employees to be attended to and a family to support and love. There was a time, in 2009 and through the sale of the company when all we did was pay attention to daily machinations. I wasn’t going to put myself through all of that again. This is not to say that I have shuttered my eyes, blocked my hearing and stopped my internet perusal. I still have SaabsUnited and InsideSide as open tabs every day on my desktop, and I don’t at all mind having a notion of what is going on. I just read the news pieces differently, especially at SaabsUnited. I hit the headlines, scan some of the pieces, but I don’t bother trying to really understand and digest the minutiae—that’s where the nausea and heartache can come from. (This is also why InsideSaab is my favorite read, for Swade provides a relieving antidote for all those maladies.)
For reasons I don’t understand, there are many who still choose to mire themselves in the goo of every piece of bad news. In scanning the front page of SU yesterday, the top-of-the-page story was on the delay of salary payments to white-collar workers. There was the one paragraph press release, followed by a few sentences of commentary. I would have expected, in the context of all the recent Saab news, that said story might have generated a couple dozen comments. However, over the course of the day I saw the comment total kept escalating, fast. By the time it reached eighty-some, I had to have a look and what was so fascinating to so many SU readers. I read through the comments quickly, and I may have this a bit off, but my impression was this: the early comments were critical of Swan/Saab, then the mob turned its venomous comments toward SU and its caretakers, and finally the rock throwing got very personal among the users. Reminded me of Lord of the Flies. For a time, it only got worse (I’ll admit that at this point I was drawn by morbid curiosity) and I believe there were ultimately well over 200 comments. Finally, a moderator stepped in and banished one user, which seemed to have a cooling effect, and—far too late, in my opinion with the advantage of hindsight—comments were closed.
I believe that the challenging news from Saab over the past few months has had a very deleterious effect at SU. I feel for the new ownership, which tries to deliver lots of news posted there along with the Saab-interest stories. Someone I once worked with, noting rancor among employees during a slow period, told me that peace among the troops would return as soon as there was an up-tick in business. “Everything’s funny when you’re making money,” he would say. He was right. Likewise, I fear that as bad news remains the order of the day at an enthusiast site like SU, that hostility will keep fomenting among the users. I hope I am wrong. There are good people running that site doing a job that I’m sure feels very thankless at times. Still, if the caustic tone remains, many of the more civil users will simply stop showing up, which may make the barbarism even worse.
Then again, when production starts up next month, followed by the release of the 9-5 Combi and the anticipation of the 9-3 replacement, perhaps the good news will soothe the savages and civility will be restored. “Everything’s funny….” Let’s hope.


Jason Powell said...

Very well said. I find myself drawn to speak up on SU when I feel people are disrespected or if the information is just plain wrong, but to the few that are on there just to stir the pot, I never get anywhere with them anyhow. I do think that the writers there do have the best interest of Saab at heart and try to find a balance of news, I think yesterday though, things were allowed to go on for too long.

Campy10 said...

I too have found the comments on SU just too much to take. I hope that a positive resolution to the current problems will return that site to the community that I stumbled onto that was in love the idea of sharing thoughts on my favorite automotive brand.