Do you practice unorganized philately? That is, are you a lone wolf stamp collector? And is that such a bad thing? There are large organizations that exist to prevent you from being an unorganized philatelist, or more to the point, a stamp collector flying solo.
For many it comes down to how involved one wishes to become with stamp collecting. For others, it is a financial concern as philatelic groups may charge anywhere from $25 to $100 plus for membership in the more elite groups. The point is made by these organizations that membership pays for itself via the knowledge one gains that turns you into the type of collector that can leverage what you learn and make savvy purchases, while the lone philatelist gets soaked once again by buying rare issues that smell like coconuts from the island of Gubba Gabba. (Good luck with those...)
The fact remains, that while the selling points of the philatelic organizations are true, if the stamp collector doesn't actually engage with -- become part of -- that organization or club, his money has been wasted.
A Basic Value of Stamp Club Membership
Not to put too fine a point on it, but there is safety in numbers. It seems that today's world contains more bullies in the real world and certainly online. Those who feel stamp collectors are fair game to push around and bedevil might think twice if the collector is bound by clubs and organizations.
Stamp collector bullying has been going on from the beginning. The only other possibly more aggrieved group is the fans of science fiction. But they have turned things around for themselves, even making the formerly disparaging terms geek and nerd into badges of pride. They have been helped in their efforts by the computer age (for want of a better term), which has been credited to geeks like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, the very pictures of success.
The remarkable thing about the abuse of stamp collectors, is that they are taken to task for their outsiderness even in adulthood. One doesn't have to look too hard to see someone putting down a stamp collector. A writer at Lingens.com, a stamp dealer site addresses this problem: "Part of the problem is the current general impression of stamp collecting as an activity for 'nerds.' Recently, I watched a television episode of Relic Hunter, certainly a show for teenage boys if there ever was one. When Tia Carrera, the sexy star, asked another character, a CIA agent, what he did in his spare time he answered 'I collect stamps -- anything wrong with that? Her reaction of suppressed mockery and disbelief would have been a sufficiently clear signal to any aspiring teenage boy that this is not an activity to engender respect in the female population!"
Some of it is "brainy kid curse": we all knew smart kids in school who were considered odd. But one of the best aspects of stamp collecting is the knowledge of the world that one can attain from collecting and studying stamps of the world. The hobby/education combo can make stamp collecting a natural for a student club. It should be easy to convince the powers-that-be that a stamp club will be a positive addition to the extra-curricular world of the school. Educational institutions, strapped for cash, might also look kindly on a club that could put together dealer shows on campus. Every little bit helps these days.
Those that believe stamp collecting will never be cool, are using an old definition of the word, inclusive of rockers and partiers. Today, when the nerd rules, the stamp collector shouldn't have to take any guff. One need only look at the world of social media, which stamp collectors continue to make the most of as they exchange information and knowledge, while bonding together in a shared interest. The solo stamp collector can be a part of the organization of stamp collecting via his computer, or take it to the next level by joining a club. Either way, until the world appreciates the true value of stamp collecting, the collector will always have the respect of his fellow collectors.