109 months ago

 - via web

- Story

Will the real riders please stand up?

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

It's a difficult thing to realize one's been prejudiced.

I watched an interesting video on YouTube the other day which modeled the spread of viral ideas on the internet on transmission of a viral disease. Of specific interest was a description of how negative ideas, particularly angry ones, are spread and maintained.


One of the characteristics of hate and anger on the internet (and in reality) is a "totem" - a representation (virtual or otherwise) which has all the characteristics of the person or thing you hate. Think "voodoo doll".

Basically, the the opposing sides of an issue develop a hate totem that typifies the other. And then talk among themselves about how awful the opposing group is. And the opposing group does the same about the first group. They don't interact to try to resolve an issue - they just more and more firmly entrenched in their own ideas and less open to different viewpoints.

With a little imagination you can see how the "with us or against us" mentality and a resistance to see things from different perspectives develop.

So what has this to do with motorcycling?

I have expressed criticism of riders who use motorcycling as a fashion statement or accessory. Somehow I feel they (sometimes) are not a "true" follower of the "sport" (for lack of a better term) because it is a costume and they are play acting something they aren't. My favourite totem recently has been the biker stereotype. The ones that look like members of a motorcycle gang from the 70's but are really lawyers, dentists, accountants and the like. They are dressing the part. Is this over-compensation for having a "wimpy" job? Or being bullied?

They project and perpetuate a negative image of motorcyclists and motorcycling. They are intimidating.

The other main stereotype is the crotch-rocketeer. Sorry I don't want to be lumped in with the types that ride scary fast on public roadways, never mind stunting, and make the insurance rate adjusters salivate with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas Eve at the thought of increasing premiums either. Take it to the track and controlled conditions. Again, it is projecting a very negative image.

Both stereotypes work against what riders need right now: we need recognition and respect (positive respect).

But I have to admit I myself been more in the "critical" than "correct" or positive side of things. So it was time to look again and see the positive.

One has to admit that these "biker lifestyle types" and "crotchateers" (I made a new word) are the people who come out - regularly, and indeed by the hundreds in many cases - for the umpteen charity rides that occur. (And, note to so-called-Greater Toronto Area residents - these rides don't block major highways for hours on end like cycling events or marathons). They do such positive work which seems at odds to their negative image. And that's sad.

I've been wary about "Bikers' Rights" guys (people, excuse me) for example - they seem unapologetically militant, misogynist, racist and sexist. Oh, and anti-police. And they claim to be "representing" MY rights as a motorcyclist. Shudder. I don't think so!

But I had to actually approach some and (mildly) challenge them that their intimidating aura is working against all the positiveness that bikers/riders do (aforementioned charity work). The response was "I know what you are mean, but it's changing".

I hope so.

But there are wider repercussions to the negative image - non-riders respond to the stereotype as if it is true. This bad because they will mentally dismiss "bikers" and not respect any motorcyclist - which makes the roads dangerous for riders.

So, in order to combat this hate, riders can't gather in their groups and bitch about drivers. Similarly, drivers can't bitch to other drivers about how awful motorcyclist are. Their has to be dialogue between the groups. It's the only way to foster peace and respect (Are you listening ISIS and USA?)

The problem is getting support for one's bitching views is very satisfying. ("Damn right!")

It's easy to be dogmatic and dismiss opposing viewpoints - it doesn't require any thought.

It's time for all riders especially those who fall outside the stereotypes to stand up and project a positive public image. Many already do - so maybe we need to be louder?

I understand the nuances within the motorcycling community. But other drivers paint us with one of two brushes. They don't understand riders. Whose fault is that? Let's fix our image and not complain about much.


You must be logged in to comment
Login now


101 months ago

@Slyck255 no but I was able to find it directly on YouTube. Your link did not work on the app or the website. Maybe you can edit the link on the website to work. I added a link in the comments that seems to work fine. Good video both funny and sad. Sad part is, it's viable for politics as well. According to the BBC world news it's working well here in America. Turning us into"alien tribes" more than than just rival parties, according to the Pew Research Center.


101 months ago

@VRSCDX - did you get the video to work?


101 months ago

where did the video go??? I can't open it