Old House Drama

Have you ever been surprised by the contentiousness of online discussions among groups that seem like they should be friendly and innocuous?

I’m on a online discussion for people who live in and love old houses. The site is usually filled with posts from members sharing photos of their lovely old homes or asking for advice on decorating or remodeling. Way too often, it is also the site of outrage from members who are horrified when anyone paints something that was stained wood. This vocal subset of the group believes that wood should never be defiled by paint, no matter how badly it goes with your decorating style or colors.

The same argument is repeated over and over again. Someone posts to say, “I have this mantel (or wainscoting, or dresser) that’s way too dark and doesn’t go with anything else in the room. Should I paint it Color A or Color B?” And then all the Sacred Wood people chastise the poor mantel owner for considering such sacrilege.

Next, the Do Your Own Thing people argue back that it’s her mantel, or wainscoting, or dresser, and she should be able to do what she wants with it. And the Sacred Wood people fire back that you don’t deserve to own an old house if you aren’t willing to keep it and furnish it in its original, period form. And the Do Your Own Thing people respond, “And do you still have an outhouse and light your home with gas lamps?”

And then the moderator stops the conversation because it’s become too contentious.

I find the whole thing hilarious.

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