Once upon a time, there were places gearheads like us could go online to find other gearheads, learn to maintain, modify, and fix our own vehicles—and make lasting friendships that border on family. These places were called “forums”, and they were the original social media.

Sadly, Facebook has all but killed the forum.

Our collective attention has shrunk to the point of being almost non-existent. We used to strictly direct no0bies to the forum’s search. Now we repeatedly answer the same stupid, lazy questions in Facebook groups over and over and over again. (In between political propaganda, of course.)

My guest this week is Chris “Ludacris” Raymond, who started—and still runs—DSMtuners.

Are you ready to get the real low-down on what’s happening with car forums today?

Welcome to The Gearhead Project.

Note: The audio may not reflect the correct episode number or link. Brian lost count of episodes so we had to re-number them. 

Interesting bits from our scheduling conversation:

Chris: I’d be happy to chat. [ But ] I’ll warn you that my outlook on the state of online automotive communities isn’t all that positive.

It’s easier than ever to connect with others online because of social media options like FB and Instagram—and at the same time, those same sites are responsible for fragmenting the existing online communities that contain massive amounts of information that get ignored more and more every day.

Now that everyone can quickly and easily post questions to the social network of their choice there is less reliance on existing information databases, less reason to log into a forum to find that information or connect with others that way, and fewer people sharing detailed information that can be indexed and researched later as a result.

Ever tried searching FB for technical information?

Very few acknowledge this is a problem. Hell, many don’t even notice that’s it happening. And the ones that do don’t care enough to take action to improve the situation.

FB groups and Instagram are to online communities what Walmart and Amazon are to small, family-owned businesses. For the positive aspects they bring (in this case convenience and ease of use), they also poison much of the good elements that already existed with the way they change user behavior.

It’s sad watching the trend play out after seeing how great online communities have been for car enthusiasts over the past two decades.

BD: Dude. You are preaching to the choir on that front.

And you’re not alone, either. Growing dislike for FB’s business operations and general disappointment in the UX are causing cracks. Call me Pollyanna, but I feel like there’s potential for a renaissance of sorts—Where gearheads use FB for the superficial, doesn’t-matter bullshit—and come back to forums for deeper, technical knowledge.

How we make that happen is something I’d like to discuss with you, but no worries about being negative re: FB’s affect on forums.

Overall, though, I’d like to dig into more about how DSMtuners has impacted your life and career over the last 20 years. The people you’ve met, the experiences you’ve had, the opportunities that surfaced simply because you showed up day after day, earnestly working to make a difference in people’s’ lives.

I mean, you probably have moments where you look back and wonder what your life might have been like if you hadn’t started the site, but would you really change it if you could? GBXM is pushing 10 years old and STILL doesn’t have anything for sale yet—but I can’t imagine doing anything else, ya know?

Here’s the deal. Those impatient, attention-addled people out there have been spoon fed hopes and dreams by the corporate marketing machine on a daily basis their entire lives. They see the carefully curated images shared by those they perceive to be successful and living the dream. But they DON’T see the hard work, the consistency, the showing up every day and doing whatever has to be done to keep things moving forward—even when there’s zero confidence any of it will work.

What I’m trying to do is share conversations where we unpack the hustle and the grind, where we show people that things truly worth having are worth putting in the work to achieve. And that we’re all trying to solve big problems.

The difference between success and failure is showing up.

You’ve been showing up forever, man. I’m all about hearing what you have to say about things.

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