We live in a day and age where accessibility has achieved an all time high.
We live in a day and age where accessibility has achieved an all time high.Photos by: James Lissimore
The permeability supplied fans of every sport or celebrity by social media and constantly improving media coverage is astounding and at times, scary. The scary part is how unquenchable the thirsts of the masses are for the inside scoops supplied by social media. This tool can be used to help shape a persona for an individual of fame, it can bring some people a kind of fame they desperately want, and inevitably it will be used for scrutinizing by all those who feel the need to do so. That is the worst part of social media and the reason anyone of any fame must have thick skin. It is a necessary evil; risk verse reward type of system that benefits those who understand the rules. If you use it correctly your battles will be waged by those who support you and all you have to do is sit back, twiddle your thumbs and read in horror…usually horror.
Enter Bowers vs. Webb; Oakland edition. Bowers made his move, not the smartest move, and contact of some sort looked likely no matter how you slice it. Of course Webb was worked up about it. Who wouldn’t be? Honestly, all the people who say he was a baby for being upset are hypocrites. I can say without reservations that there is no one who would not be “pissed off” after that incident. Then Webb let his emotions take him away on the podium. It wasn’t professional, but we have been screaming for a little less professionalism for years. Now all of a sudden we call him a baby for it. This is what the social media folks feed off of; like catnip for them…they go crazy. No matter whose side you are on it is awesome to see this play out in a sport that has badly needed a little less respect on and off the track. Anyone who is an avid fan does not want the crazy crashes that take a rider out for even the night, but the pick-up passes, jack’em–in-the-jaw moments are a must. The drama this creates is electrify because so many fans get their opinions out there and fight for their rider. Webb and Bowers may have pushed it aside, probably not friends, but still are working together in training. Have the fans of these two riders done that? NO! They berate each other, the FIM, Feld, the world, anything and everything they can to spit in the opposing rider’s “social media clubs” eyes.
Looking back at the Reed and Canard incident, which ended with the highly controversial black flag, you can see evidence that it was social media burning the torches between the two riders. Those two riders have enough experience and class to remember that in the moment emotions don’t dictate a career, a season, or a level of maturity. In fact, they let it stand as a one-night problem, but the circus of social media took it from there and pushes it on and on. It makes for high energy with the fans and with the broadcast personal as they had something to draw emotion from. The only people it really bothers or possibly hurts are the riders themselves. I don’t believe Reed or Canard care about rehashing a moment like that over and over again. They both handle it well; Reed used it as motivation and a nice shot of piss and vinegar that he had been lacking early on, and Canard just let it stay behind him and focused ahead on a chance to make up for a bad weekend. I like both of these riders and I enjoy watching them and their styles out on the track. Their personalities and social personas are true representations that all should strive to achieve whether in the spot light or not. However, the races would have been a lot more exciting had they been as worked up as the social media fans of these two riders. Just imagine how aggressive and great the battle for the lead might have been. Social media does have a place I suppose, just not on the track.
Social media is an addition for most of the world. Some riders use it to keep the fan base apprised of what they are doing; like a moto journal. Others use it for affirmation that they are loved and important, and others still, use it to plug sponsors and advertise themselves as a brand. As a fan it is nice to know your voice can be heard, and acknowledged from time to time. But as with anything it can be taken too far and too serious. Social media is a tool for the riders but should also be looked upon as a tool for the fan. The first step for social media fans should be to realize they have an opinion and so does everyone else. Also, I am 99% sure the riders are better in every area of their career than we are of our hobby (this being racing and riding a dirt bike). Keep the passion but lose the badass behind a keyboard mantra, and most of all, just enjoy social media for what it gives us: a look into lives of people who have talent we wish we had, and a lifestyle that seems perfect from the outside. To act as if we know best is an insult not only to them, but also to our own intelligence. After all, talk is cheap, silence is golden, and the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.