F Bombs, Man to Man Contact in Prison & People’s Heads We’d Like to Bash

Weekly Columnist Writer - Cheri Felix

Right off the bat I want you to know something about me. I understand anger. I know what it feels like to be angry. I’ve sat in a courtroom across from the man who took a seven inch blade to my friend and left her to die in a pool of her own blood. Which she promptly did. I’ve had a cross burned on my lawn because the racist people got the wrong house. I want you to know this so you’ll still listen (read) when I say I am shocked lately at people’s reactions to their anger. At people’s quick tempers. At people’s willingness to drop the F bomb and threaten bodily injury. I’ve even read comments about how so and so should be sent to prison so that he can “get it up the butt.” Really is this how we want to be? Is this how we want our kids to be? Is this how we want our world to be?

It’s tough to write an article about self righteousness and anger without sounding angry and self righteous but I’m going to give it my best shot. I know what’s been happening and there is no excuse for someone either intimidating by horn or causing bodily harm. And I know things are sketchy out there and I know cyclists have the same rights (and some of the same responsibilities) and I know tensions are high and I know that in the game of cars versus cyclists that the cars always win. I know all of this and I am still disappointed.

I am disappointed in how it has become okay to say completely hateful things. How it’s become okay to wish someone else harm. It’s so eye for eye these days. It’s not just this issue. It’s drivers versus drivers. We’ve all been the victim of someone’s road rage. It’s drivers and pedestrians and let’s not leave out what happens on the dirt trails where I spend 99% of the time I straddle my bike. Just this fall, when I was out with the high school team, a guy on a bike stopped his ride to come back and yell at not only adult coaches but the high school kids. And he dropped the F word. And then he oh good lord, he Facebook’d the team. Apparently we ruined his day, we ruined his training, and we ruined his evening. Oh my. Really? A few kids don’t yield to you and that’s what happens? You cuss them out, stew about it and send them emails?

Listen, crap happens. And I know it sucks to have someone not yield to you. And even worse, dangerous and terrifying things can happen. It happens on the road and it happens on the dirt. And yes, I know cars are dangerous and scary. But is this what we’ve come to? Have we lost civility? Have we forgotten our manners? Or are we so sure we are right and so justified that it’s okay for us to act this way. When did it become okay to be so verbally violent? There is a right way and a less right way to act when angry and I’m pretty sure threatening to bash someone’s head in, kick in windows, and threatening to post someone’s picture and address all over the internet are the less right ways.

Now I know this is hard to hear. Because when we are angry we feel well…. justified. I’m not saying the anger or fear is not misplaced. I’m just saying I think we all need to sit back for a moment and ask ourselves how do we want to go about this. Do we want to go down the tit for tat road and see where that takes us? Do we want to make this us versus them?
Take a deep breath. Wave, smile and say thank you on the trails. Smile and wave to drivers who pass you with caution and respect. Smile and wave and say thank you like your life depends on it.

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6 Comments

We didn't really mean

We didn't really mean it...
Seriously, this is a comfortable place for cyclist to rant and vent. With good times like the crappy economy, election overload (hooray, it's over!), and friends and family digging out or hunkering down for round two back east, the opportunity to get some release in a safe-ish venue when one of ours falls is hard to pass up.
The vast majority of us do not behave this way in the real world.

Some folks do

My Dad was a good example of doing this the right way. He rode in Colorado from 1974 to 2004. When I rode with him I'd see him do this little salute thing at cars frequently, showing appreciation when they gave him room, and waving at them. He got sworn at some, had a beer bottle tossed at him once and was caught by a public utility line hanging low over Easley road once, which gave him some permanent shoulder injury, but he didn't dwell on such incidents. He just dwelt on the joy of riding in the Colorado sun.

Well then try to control

Well then try to control yourself online. The more you rant, the more it sets a precedent that "it's okay to be like that".

Conduct yourself with grace, and think about who else maybe reading and modelling themselves on your behavior, is what Cheri is saying.

It isn't a sign of weakness to be the bigger person. I've been a bike racer and on the internet for over 20 years now, and I have definitely seen an erosion of maturity in both real life and online discourse.

Pretend you are writing or better yet, talking to your grandma..

Thank you Cheri, for bringing some accountability to an apparently face-less, unaccountable world. Don't get me wrong. I'm upset about the recent bout of road rage towards cyclists. I do love a good twitter/facebook rant. And I've been responsible for many myself--though mostly towards the clothing catalog "Athleta". But. I'm in full agreement with Cheri. IT DOESN'T HELP OUR CAUSE TO SUGGEST BODILY HARM TO ANOTHER PERSON. Especially an older person (which I can say since I'm only 36. Read it and weep, friends).

Really? We really think it's a good idea to post this guy's name and address and suggest sitting out in front of his driveway and doing all sorts of...just hateful, moronic things? This is going to help somehow? How about rallying for tougher laws, better bike lanes and road conditions? Volunteering at a local bike rodeo or a race. There are ways to make a difference. A real difference. Not a virtual one.

What happened to just playing nice? Being a good example? Enjoying our bikes instead of flaunting our superiority on them? We can shine instead of tarnish on the road, on the trails and after a ride. How about even before, during or after an amateur, AMATEUR race? We are not just living life in front of our computers--at least I hope to hell we're not. We are living around others; our kids, families, strangers and cute lil' puppies. Let us not forget the puppies.

Do us all a favor and before you post something:
a. spell check it.
b. think of doing one real thing to make a difference.
c. pretend you are writing a letter to your grandma.
d. don't forget the puppies.

Have we lost civility? Yes...

Unfortunately, the technologies that allow us to connect to one another, also allow us to easily connect in negative ways. Forums and social sites are all too easy to spout things that would either never be said face to face, or would have a totally different approach or tone face to face. Then these technologies allow us to virtually assemble and perpetuate thoughts and feelings, good and bad.

The real world problem extends far beyond the bike, it is a shift in the way society interacts, behaves, and accepts. Now more than ever, places like the grocery store can be an obstacle course of unfriendly anti social self centered haters. Simple things like not leaving the shopping cart in the middle of the isle, to going around the blind corners slowly, to not pushing your cart into the person in front because you are too busy on the phone talking or typing. Then cutting across the parking lot in your car because those lines painted on the asphalt don't apply to you, don't bother with the turn signal, and if I'm not turning out into traffic fast enough then beep your horn at me.

This problem goes way beyond bike vs car, Stravassholes, Facebookassholes, Twitterassholes..... It is what society is becoming, it is the way the news is presented to us, it is the way our country is run and officials are elected... it is an "I"society and if others get in the way of "I" then there is Hell to pay...

So the question is, what is the legacy that this current society wants to leave behind? Not just leave behind for our children, or our children's children, but for those that look back on us hundreds of years from now. When they excavate our garbage pits and analyze our discarded hard drives and iPhones, what will they call our "age", certainly not similar to the Golden Age, but maybe more like the Age of Carnivora and War?

Not all hope should be lost though, I see many that do live with civility with society, although I do admit shock at times when this happens. I'm not talking about people I know either, random people I encounter on the trail or in life in general. They are out there.

Maybe media technology has become a huge distortion field that feeds off of fear, uncertainty, and death. Maybe the bad apples make things seem worse than they really are?