Lately I’ve been running across variations of a certain phrase used frequently in rollerblading media—on message boards, on Twitter, on Facebook—sometimes even as an ultimatum in real life.
There are many varieties, but here are some examples of the basic sentiment:
“Pics, or it didn’t happen.”
“Pics, or you weren’t there.”
and the even more rollerblading-specific:
“Clips, or you didn’t do it.”
This sentiment really gets at one of the primary characteristics of our community. We’re a media-driven group. And we have a voyeuristic culture. We watch videos and examine photographs. We spend a huge amount of time paying attention to what the others are doing. What they’re wearing, what tricks they’re doing, what style they skate with.
In bald promotion of that, we learn photography and video editing, we post pictures of our friends and ourselves, we make online edits and skate sections and overlay our favorite music on top.
It feels good to have a picture in a magazine or a great clip in an edit. But we’re something of a spectacle and we seem to embrace it more than we shun it.
But voyeurism isn’t the only thing imbedded in those phrases listed above. They also encode something fairly strange that has to do with how we see the world as rollerbladers.
When someone challenges you with, “Clips, or you didn’t do it,” they aren’t really doubting that you did the trick. What they’re doing is enforcing a system of values on you—values that you’re supposed to share. In a way, they’re trying to coerce you into abiding to the norms of our community, which, as I said before, is voyeuristic and spectacle.
If you aren’t willing to participate in those kinds of things, the community often tries to force you to abide by its norms and standards, or risk banishment at your own peril.
But this isn’t some rant about whether or not you should film yourself or whether you should look at the pictures that people post up everywhere.
The important thing, to me anyway, is to realize how the sort of behavior (above) affects the way we see the world.