The Internet Internetted against me.

I’ve been around the internet from it’s very early days, the days before pictures!!  I had a Compuserve account and a network of friends that for a few years never knew what each other looked like.  Then pictures arrived, albeit very slowly, and over time networks of friends sprung up and then there was Facebook.  The ultimate network to bring people together and share pictures and birthdays and ideas.  The problem with instant media and instant response is that people are doing more posting than reading.  Very often people read something but don’t actually take in what has been written as they are instantly in posting mode so they kind of get the gist of what was written kind of like Chinese whispers where people “hear” what they want to hear not necessarily what was said as they are so eager to pass the message on.  After all speed is everything and whoever posts first wins, or something like that.

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One person who read my last post, let’s call him Bob, decided that he would take it upon himself to post to one of the communities we are both a part of and this is where the Chinese whispers, internet style, came in.

My post was a little dig at a runner I know that continually puts down other people for running slowly, basically if you can’t run faster than 1:45 for a half half or sub 4 hours for a marathon then you aren’t a real runner and shouldn’t be allowed to run with the “good” runners.  He posted the other day that he was devastated to miss his PB by 10 seconds and this was caused, in his opinion, by slower runners on the course.  As he runs a sub 1:15 half, there can’t have been many “slower” runners to get past as he always starts at the front.  He proceeded to flame the group and was ejected.

Now when Bob posted onto this community we are both part of it suddenly became about Bob, he describes a “us or them” scenario happening where he is the “them” and Bob is a different “type of runner” to the rest of the group and he is upset that there is this division in the group and that the group doesn’t want him there because he is so special and fast and that I think that Bob shouldn’t post anything he does good or bad.

Poor old Bob!!  But it wasn’t about Bob at all was it?  Bob wasn’t in my post at all.  That’s just the Chinese way he decided to take it and he gets more clicks and likes by becoming the victim.

The Internet then did what the internet does so well.  It kind of stopped “listening” and just went to writing mode.  Comment after comment about how the group was so inclusive and special, and to be honest it is a group full of positivity and encouragement, there is no “us or them” there is no division of runners.  This turned into “my best time is….”, then the cliches started, you’ve got to love a good running cliche; “You’re lapping everyone on the couch”  “Finish Lines not Finish Times”.  “You’re better than the couch potatoes”

Now other people are threatening to leave the group because Bob said he might.  So dramatic, I love it.  I’m not sure if this is what Bob intended but I LOVE IT!!!  Then there came the post that I think secretly Bob had been waiting for.  The head man, the top admin, begging Bob not to leave the group.  Oh how the angels sang in Bob’s ears, he really had become a true “them” someone stood apart from the group and worshiped.  Bob was filled with the joys of Elitism, he was a Facebook running group GOD!!.

Now the small problem is that other people read my blog post and some of them read Bob’s post and they now think, because of that post, that I was writing about Bob.  Some of these people now think I have something against Bob because Bob can run faster than me.  On the contrary, I enjoy reading Bob’s blog mainly because he gets so cross at himself.  🙂  Reading about someone achieving what he does interests me and I am constantly amazed at the times he achieves but , dum dum dummmm,  he doesn’t inspire me.  I don’t run fast, I run far.

Some of these people write naughty words about me and say that I should leave the group but don’t worry they won’t be published; this is a nice blog.  🙂

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Do Runners Inspire runners?

I’m a member of a few Facebook running communities, most have a mixture of very good runners and more beginner runners and the combination works.  Most Sundays are full of race results, pictures, medals and self congratulatory posts seeking approval from their peers.  I’m not knocking it as I have done exactly the same thing. They are in a safe place, a runners place and runners do understand runners and they know they will get a nice response because their real friends don’t care or understand about running.  I still post every run on my Facebook page as it’s an easy way of recording them if I ever want to look back again.  I even have a few runner friends who like my posts.  🙂

I have to admit that I tend to gloss over the very large majority of these posts as I only fleetingly “know” these people and even then it’s only on the Internet.  The posts I do look for are those of people I know and have met or members of my online running team as we actually communicate more than just race times and results.  There are also the posts from runners who have struggled or are struggling, the ones carrying a few extra pounds and the runners who just find it hard work.  I like them because I can relate, I was them, I still am them, I’ll probably always be them.

I can feel the pride of a first time 10k finisher, or a half or a full as I’ve been there and I remember the pride and relief of finally reaching a magical target.  For them time is immaterial, the finish line means more than anything else.  I celebrate with these people and congratulate them, it’s a mighty achievement.

Where I have issues are the runners who go online to tell everyone how they failed in achieving a certain time when that time “they failed at” is faster than 99% of the time all the runners could ever achieve.  The “failure” runner knows this and posts and waits for all the posts telling him/her how awesome and amazing they are.  STOP IT!!  We know you’re faster than us, belittle yourself somewhere else.

Do runners inspire runners?  Everyone is inspired by different criteria and no one is the same in thinking what is good or bad or inspiring.  Elite runners don’t inspire me, what they do, they do easily, it’s hardly an effort or so they make it seem.  Fast club runners and their 1:30 halfs don’t inspire me.  I can’t run that fast and never will be able to.  The runners that inspire me are the ones that push themselves but at a level I can relate to.  I know what a 6 hour marathon feels like, I’ve felt that pain that goes on for hours.  I can relate to someone who runs 50 miles and it takes half a day.  These are the runners who have to push themselves, they go to the start and know it’s going to hurt and hurt for a long time.  These are the runners who don’t realise they inspire other runners, they do it because they feel that they have to, they usually do it to raise money for great causes and sometimes they do it just to show other people that they can do it.

Who inspires you and why?