The OCR community consists of some mighty impressive people accomplishing magnificent feats. We have athletes taking the sport to new heights, people donating to charities, writers crafting inspiring articles, and individuals organizing large teams and enhancing the sense of camaraderie. There are product developers, obstacle designers, trainers, race directors, business men and women, promoters, encouragers, and all those who have decided to improve their lives through health and fitness.
These people have put themselves “out there” in the hopes of creating something good through, within, or because of the sport. Unfortunately, by doing so, they often become subject to ridicule, derision, and complaints that are too common in a 21st century digital environment. For a while I have wanted to write an uplifting article that encourages all these individuals to continue “doing something” in spite of the Internet Warriors who are poised to attack any shortcoming or misstep. Yet every approach I took to writing was uninspiring. Dull. Dull. Dull. DULL! Long on words, but short on substance. I needed something tangible to work with and I finally got it. Honestly, I didn’t want what I got, but although the giver was malicious in intent, I have chosen to make something good out of it.
In response to a recent article I wrote advocating for a level playing field for OCR “competitors”, someone whose name I did not recognize in the email address sent me the following message.
“It’s rambling directionless articles like this that make us not take this sport seriously. You’re a sideshow.”
I don’t think he liked it! I know I’m not a great writer, but I didn’t realize I had devolved to sideshow status! Oh, well. It’s a price I’m willing to pay. Many have disagreed with me or disliked my writing (has to be a ton of people in that category), but most people have been respectful or heeded their mother’s advice: “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”
This particular comment was ugly, but sadly not nearly as vile or disgusting as the vitriol I’ve seen in other online forums. While some may be curious to know who sent this, I will not release his name. He is probably a nice, likable person with a loving family. Perhaps he is dealing with bitterness or low self-esteem? Regardless, I do not need to exacerbate it. Furthermore, the whole “online shaming” thing has been on my mind since watching this TED Talk a couple of months ago and I don’t ever want to go there. The following quote from that talk has resonated with me: “We want to destroy people and not feel bad about it.” I imagine that my commenter hoped for that very thing. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t work. 🙂
ANYWAYS!!! (Maybe he was right about the rambling!) What I had been wanting to write all along to the “doers” in OCR was to live above the criticism. Take stock of what you are doing and if you are acting with integrity and for the right reason, then please continue. The OCR community needs you to work, and develop, and train, and create, and improve – despite the fact that others (like my sideshow commenter) may try to cut you down with keyboard slashes.
Thanks to this incident I now have the additional substance I needed for this article. Not only do I implore you all to continue doing great things, but to also be a voice of positivity when dealing with digital demons intent on tearing down whatever good you’re attempting. Refrain from unnecessary verbal attacks and act with honor & integrity toward others. For many of us, exhibiting that element of mutual respect may just be the most important attribute we can bring to the sport.
Here is the whole point of the article: be more doer than critic.
P.S. While I intend on being more doer than critic, I still may write rambling, directionless articles.
OnMyWayToSparta is not your typical OCR blog. Most of the articles here take a different approach to examining the sport and people of obstacle racing. You can find more like this by following OnMyToSparta on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
You know you’re doing something right when you have haters. It’s when you don’t hear anything is when it’s scary.
That being said, there’s a lot of negativity popping up right now online surrounding OCR, maybe growing pains of the community, maybe something more. But the number of positive, helpful doers definitely outnumber the critics. Hopefully, it stays like that.