Because I have a curmudgeonly and anti-modern disposition, I once made the stupid argument in a graduate sociology seminar that the internet was partly responsible for the decline of social capital in the US. That is, people can’t make “real” or “meaningful” social connections online.
[A] couple of weeks ago at the office, one of the IT guys showed me a personal blog post he was working on. It was a tribute to a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game in which he had participated for the last four years or so under a screen name that included the word “Hammer” or “Sword” or something along those lines. As he described the final battle from the previous night in which many users from the history of the game returned for one last go, he said he was reminded of an excerpt from a letter that Ken Burns used in his Civil War series. He got a little misty. I bit my tongue. “Pathetic,” I thought. “That’s not a real community. Those people don’t even know each other.”
Needless to say, this morning amidst my disappointment that HTJ was shutting down, I couldn’t help but consider how ridiculous I would sound were I to explain all this to the IT guy on Monday. “Yeah, it was great. We all went there to look at his shirts. And sometimes his jackets. And shoes! Oh the shoes! No, I don’t know his name. None of us use our names. Except Muffy, and that’s a nickname. What did he look like? No idea. Never saw his face. I think he was in Japan. You should have seen the sweaters though! Have I mentioned the catalog scans? Yes, old catalogs. And the collar roll discussions? But now it’s over. Too bad. Where will we go to look at old shirts?”
By now you know that conversation will never take place. Because just like the MMO games that allow people to be wizards, dwarves, elves, and monsters by night, looking at another man’s shirts on Saturday mornings is awfully private business.
Indeed, half the enjoyment of clothes for me is being able to participate in the community that exists for it online. I’m sad to see Heavy Tweed Jacket leave the party, but hopefully he’ll return (again).
(Pictured above: HTJ in a Shaggy Dog, candy striped shirt, Dress Gordon scarf, and waxed cotton Barbour)