The internet. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.
One year ago, as my website was brand spanking new, I took part in a memorial ride for Milt Olin, a former Napster executive who was killed by an inattentive sheriff. My friend John came along, as he and Milt were friends years ago.
If you want more details, then read the previous article, but we were nearing the end when my cheap, plastic GoPro accessory snapped off as we reached what was going to be our final traffic signal.
As soon as the light turned, the car behind us gunned it and I could hear the sound of crunched carbon fiber fearing that I was moments away from the same fate.
Luckily, the car only took out one of us, but I was fortunate to have the camera running to record what followed.
I posted the video to YouTube and the footage spread fast. I never had this type of viewage before, so I was a bit unprepared to face the internet’s rage.
While it’s a pretty cut and dry case what happened, I couldn’t believe the volume of hate spewing coming from all directions.
Comments flew wishing we were hurt severely, that we didn’t belong in the road and a number of mischaracterizations that didn’t reflect the truth at all.
At first, I tried moderating it all, but at a certain point, I was overwhelmed and just gave up thinking at one point I’d revisit them. I marked one year on my calendar, because unless I had some structured plan, it would be very difficult to view at the comments on my own.
Now that I’m looking back, there’s been a lot of comments and many still get added. Here’s a sampling so you get an idea:
That’s some pretty hurtful stuff. It makes you instantly angry, but that’s the internet. There’s hate abound.
I had trouble finishing this article because of my general malaise constantly receiving alerts in my inbox of these hurtful comments, until I saw this post from my friend last night:
A little background: after my friend posted the photo of himself racing a crit(the irony of this being a closed course), his mom “liked” it, which allowed it to show up on her feed, then one of her FB friends decided to leave this fine remark. At least on facebook, we’re more apt to know who the person is(and yes, I blurred the name out) and that’s when it came to me.
The lack of accountability on the web is what fosters these negative attitudes. Anyone can comment without consequence which is scary in a world where sound bites rule over substance.
If no one understands these are real people when they see these pictures or videos, what happens when they’re behind a wheel? You can go ahead and make threatening remarks in a lot of cases only to have other knuckleheads back you up. The next time you see a cyclist on the road, do you see a father or a target?
The funny thing about the woman’s profile threatening cyclists: she has a ton of animal pictures posted. If there was a dog on the side of the road, I’m sure she’d be more likely to stop for the canine than slow down for a cyclist.
I’m not saying that we need to stop posting videos on the web. My friend’s scare last month, which was recorded on camera, made me bring my GoPro along for a lot more of my rides, especially since learning that the footage is leaning towards charges being pressed.
Freedom of speech is a good thing, but when you don’t put a face to it, it often can get abused. Please keep recording your rides. If enough of us do, people will soon take notice.