For some reason, once a Sherlockian takes their first steps into the larger world of Sherlock Holmes fandom, a little bit of insecurity often sets in. Where once it was just enjoyment of the Master Detective and having fun with one's friends, the fact that there's a larger community out there means we suddenly have a measuring stick to compare our own love of Sherlock to. It's a vague and nasty thing, playing on one's insecurities and giving narcissistic jerks just the tool they need to manipulate the more easily conned among us.
I've seen some remarkable and enthusiastic Sherlockians fall prey to the need to validate their status as a real Sherlockian over the years. I've also seen one or two minor league whackos try to set up their own mini-cults of Sherlock, with rules and ranks doled out to the true believer. We all set little goals for ourselves, whether it's getting an article or book published, travelling to some great Sherlockian site or event, or accomplishing some goal of Holmes fandom that no one has even thought of yet. But there's a big difference in goals one sets for one's self and those hoops arbitrarily lined up by some clown who's been in the hobby a few years longer than you.
As much as one hates to see a cranky old Sherlockian making blanket condemnations of the latest generation of Holmes fans, the thing I really hate to see is the newcomers falling prey to the thought, even unspoken, that there are set benchmarks they must attain to be a real Sherlock Holmes fan. Getting invited to the BSI dinner. Getting published in The Baker Street Journal. One needen't give the power to those particular institutions, or any other, if it doesn't fit your version of Holmes fan fun.
The great irony of the recent old-versus-new is that the Baker Street Babes probably have more followers worldwide than the Baker Street Irregulars. One could argue that the Babes have yet to stand the test of time, but there was a day when any other institution had yet to do the same. At this moment in time, I don't feel like it's the Babes that need to be validated by getting invited to some dinner in New York. From my point of view, the Baker Street Irregulars could show their modern relevance by getting featured on a Babes podcast. Validation is a two-way street.
That's the thing any new Sherlock Holmes fan needs to consider as they enter the larger world of Holmes fandom: The previous generations need you as much as you need them. Because one day, you're going to be the surviving face of Sherlock Holmes fandom. None of the best parts of this hobby happened because someone waited for their predecessors to grant approval. And the great Sherlockians are only great now because someone in the generation after them decided they were worth honoring. Think about that for a moment . . . .
Look around at the older Sherlockians you know. Who do you think gets to say whether or not they were important to Holmes culture once their day is done? Certainly no one of their generation. At some point, if you stay in this hobby long enough, you may not just be deciding the benchmarks for your own Sherlockian accomplishments, you could be deciding for those of us long past.
So if you're a relative newbie to the hobby and get a moment of insecurity when someone a little older starts to rant (like this guy right here), take the long view. And then remember to be nice to that generation behind you as well . . . .