Sunday, November 24, 2013

Welcoming Myself Back With A Social Rant

Honey, I'm home!   Last time I think I excused myself to go to the  restroom and then ...suddenly its 5 months later.  I'm like that.  My esposa will be telling me something and in the middle her story I just disappear downstairs or in the back room, then shes yelling "where are you?  I was talking to you!" Something grabs my interest, and at the time it seems more important, and that interest leads me off. Sometimes for months it seems.

I've noticed that despite my total lack of updating, my blog is still getting regular reads, which is reassuring in a way that people like my old writing and new stuff is not necessary.  I'm guessing as no reader has actually said anything about that at all, and the vast majority of hits are probably key word based searches such as "drillium", and here you are.  Whatever.

Today I feel like venting a little.  The Holidays are upon us.  You know what the holidays are?  The holidays are a diet of crack cocaine force fed to a shell shocked, enervated consumer culture already stressed out on regular life, a culture drunk on its own self importance, enabled and acted out through instant social media. We must spend money now to show we care.  Our economy depends upon it!  Do your part to enrichen corporate greed by furthering your own personal debt.

But don't think about that.  It's a nice day so let's get in our petroleum fueled rolling bunker and go somewhere, buy something.  On the way, we have to stay updated on our social status, so lets make sure to check our phones are every red light.  If people know we are connected 24/7, we must be oh so coolio, no?  "Hey you, muthafucka in the Toyota, GO GO!   I gotta get to Starbucks fast.  And you other muthafuckas...get out of my muthafuckin WAY!"

You see, Flash cycles a lot in the urban Bay Area of San Fransisco,CA,USA,  and while the vast majority of motorists are decent enough not to run me over, there is always a percentage like the one I quoted above.  

Beautiful Lake Merritt

I took a ride this morning around and around Oaktown's Lake Merritt,which, although there is now a bike lane around the lake entirely, there are still numerous stop lights to contend with.  At the lights, when I stop along side them, I can see the drivers with their devices in their laps, texting, surfing, doing whatever, not seeing the light change, or worse.  Its appalling the percentage of people with phones on, in their laps, waiting for the next red light.  Even worse are the ones doing it while driving, they can be completely immersed and oblivious not only to me on  a bike, but the world of driving around them.  I watched a woman texting ahead of me who veered her SUV completely into the bike lane, luckily we were behind her.   Or, trying to obey the no-texting law, drivers will pull off the road to update or take a call, and often they will park in the bike lane to do so, or double park and text, which I also saw today, forcing me out into traffic.

This is fucking brain masturbation, nothing less.   Nobody is that important to need updating their Facebook status at the light.  "stopped at a light in Oaktown, LOL!!"   This mind wanking disturbs me on several levels. The first is that I'm out on the road cycling amongst these distracted operators of overpowered death machines.  I'm fully aware that their phone can kill me, and my death would be because these idiots could not stand to unplug from social for the duration of their drive.  That's the second thing, that people are so addicted to the smallest dose of approval, so Pavlovian conditioned for updates to prove their importance and worth, that they will sleep with their phones on under their pillows so as to not miss anything.

Even TV commercials are now depicting family quality time as meaning everyone sits in the same room while using their individual devices while enjoying super fast download times.  Never mind that the family tunes each other out, that the devices render the user emotionless, creating a family of wired droids.  Broadband quality is now the measure of family happiness and togetherness according to cultural media.

I think its all bullshit.  I have a dumb cell phone that barely makes calls and is so annoying to text that no one would want to.  I like it that way.  I quit using Facebook, my account is still active because some really annoying young people use it for messaging me instead of email.  I hate Twitter, hated it since day one. Google Plus is something no one wanted or needed but has been forced on all gmail users.

I'm happy to say I'm pretty much off the grid socially.  If someone wants to contact me they email me for the most part, and I read that email at home or in the office, not in my car, because I can't if I wanted to.  I like it that way.  I know what you're  thinking:  "uh, Flash, isn't Flashblog a social media thing?  Aren't you a tad bit hypocritical here?"  Yes and no.  I suppose if I wanted to be a total Luddite recluse then I'd scrap this blog and go completely under the radar.  The thing is that I like bikes, riding bikes, and writing about bikes.  What I don't do is write the blog while driving to work or the mall.  I don't even think of it as a blog anymore, more like a random thing I do when the inspiration hits, which these days is not too often.

Moving on to bloody wanker cyclists.  I hate it when other cyclists make me look bad in the collective mind of motorists.  Blatant red light runners, people who ride opposite traffic flow, bikies and cyclists who ride either with no lights at night or with gen 1 Knog blinkies, lights which have all the power of one miniature Xmas light, thinking this little blinky with an almost dead battery will make them visible even though they are wearing black while blowing through the red light at rush hour.  This includes Freds of all stripes including Lancewannabes who are too important to stop for red lights, their heart rates must not drop below a critical training threshold you see.  Motorist make mental notes of these incidents, bank them in their minds, and recall them whenever they see a person on a bike, and act out accordingly.   They see me riding along in my kit and think "Oh, its one of those arrogant prissy bastards who does whatever they want because they are on a bike and their fitness is SO important, and they have to talk to each other while riding and take the lane and block traffic, slowing me down precious seconds, I HATE THEM!"

Hey, I drive to work which is located in the hills, Skyline Blvd. being a prime road cycling road, so I see all kinds of cycling don'ts from the driver's perspective.  Some guys do ride side by side yakking, and no, they don't form up single file when a car (me) comes from behind, and I have to go WAY around, making sure not to take out cyclists coming at me in the other lane.  Self important idiots.  Again, lots of people wear black with no lights at dusk and when under the shadows of the big redwoods are nearly invisible, what are they thinking other than "black is so chic and makes me look racy".   "I DIDN'T EVEN SEE HIM!"

People, good lights are cheap, please use them.  Turn them on as soon as the sun starts setting.  Wear some article of clothing that is either light colored or has reflective properties.  Do not assume that the girl who just left the bar after a few drinks, forgot to turn on her headlights, and is updating her social status looking down at her lap is going to see you in your black Rapha outfit because your weak red Knog on the seatpost is blinking with all the power of a smoke alarm status light.

And with that, Cheers!  Stay safe out there my riding friends.

Nov, 2013.  Dr. Bruce and Flash  at Peet's Berkeley       photo Bruce

Keep Pedaling! 

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