I know this post won’t be popular with everyone. The thing is, I just don’t get the intense siege mentality many of us cyclists seem to ride around with every day.
A quick perusal of virtually any news story or social media post with anything to do with cycling reveals it isn’t just a chip on our collective shoulders, it’s a bloody railway sleeper. And it’s weighing us down.
Following the Category 5 shit fight this week surrounding the recent Family Feud episode that dared to have a bit of fun at our expense (it’s even gone global now, getting picked up by Peloton magazine in the USA), seriously, you’d be hard pressed to find a more hyper sensitive and effortlessly click baitable interest group out there than us lot.
I’m not for one moment suggesting Family Feud did the right thing. It was a pretty stupid question, and showed some very questionable taste. But since when were TV game shows beacons for morality anyway? They’ve been castigated before. They’ll be castigated again. And do you know what? They couldn’t care less.
Just like those string-pulling editors at the News Limited tabloids, the Channel 10 show’s producers must be laughing all the way to their ratings reports with all extra free publicity they’ve had this week. Want to spike your ratings or page views? Just run something – anything will do – about cyclists and stand back. Hey presto, instant ratings surge.
Problem is, hidden amongst our feverish and often knee-jerk outrage to these types of things, not to mention the extraordinarily ignorant comments from knuckle dragging trolls in social media, are almost always some very serious and important messages that really do need to be imparted on the wider community. They’re entirely valid. But they just get lost in the firestorm of digital hate and overuse of caps lock. We arc up at them. They arc up at us. And all hope of progress is lost. At this stage the mainstream media then typically defaults to the usual ‘cars vs bikes’ stereotypes, focusing on the conflict and controversy rather than the actual points the cycling defenders were trying to make, and nothing much is achieved except a whole lot of wasted energy.
Gawd knows it’s hard to restrain yourself. Every time I read something about bike rego, for example, I feel like slamming my fist through the computer screen. And I admit there are some days when, in lieu of kicking the dog after a shitty time at work, I love nothing more than a drawn out Facebook slanging match. But somehow surely we need to try and stay calmer as a group, play the long game, pick our battles (possibly more at a one-on-one level with our misguided friends and colleagues, for example) and starve the grandstanding haters and ratings chasers of oxygen?*
* Which of course I haven’t even done myself, having just written an entire post about them. Doh.
I liked this comment from a guy called James on the SMH:
“If a tv show makes a stupid comment in the forest, and no one watches, does anyone care? Face it, they got publicity for an awful show and we are rewarding them for appealing to their bogan followers.”