Photo: Nicola Butler
In Sweden we have this expression called ”Jante-lagen”, it’s an unwritten law about that you never should stand out too much. Obviously not many people wanna show their worst sides to the world but also, In Sweden it is frowned upon if you come across to cocky or successful. Today with everyone posting their proudest moments online before they call and tell their mothers this expression isn’t used as much anymore. One thing growing up with this unwritten law meant was that if someone ever did stand out, did claim something he/she was proud of or did talk themselves up, a lot of my friends (and myself) felt the urge to immediately talk that person down. For the record, let me just add that this was around the time where I used to ride my yellow bike to school and my biggest concerns was how I was gonna get the whole collection of N-sync bubble-gum stickers. I am hoping that both myself and my friends has grown up and gotten a bit further in our personal development since then.
Anyways, today when I look at the direction wakeboarding is taking, I can’t help but to be right back on the school-ground. I don’t know why it is that lately there has been so much negativity blowing up within the wakeboard community. I don’t know if it’s because it makes us feel better about our own riding to talk other riders down when they are doing things differently than us? Maybe it’s the newest ”trend” within wake to call out everything we don’t like and it’s a phase that will pass. Maybe we’re trying to impress the ”cool kids on the block” by hating the same things that they hate? Whatever it is, I believe it is bringing wakeboarding down.
Let me clarify:
Yes, I am in full respect of the whole ”wake-zeach” and I thought it was hilarious when it first came out. Calling pro riders out on things that they can improve in a jokingly matter was a great way to push those riders to progress and focus more on style. These pro riders all know each other, they have enough self-esteem to shrug their shoulders and get on with their day and most of them personally know the people behind the Wakezeach pages. What struck me was the first time I found an amateur rider on that page. I think the problem is when we take it too far and start banning anyone from making misstakes. Most riders aren’t professional and most of them wakeboard because of the pure fun of it! A lot of the new riders are kids, looking at the pro’s for how to behave and when the cool thing to do is to scream “zeaaaaach” to the new kid on the block, you take the fun and creativity out of it for a lot of people. Now, I’m pretty sure that none of the riders writing negative anonymous comments on Alliancewake.com
has the intention of bringing beginner riders down but by always focusing on the negative we transfer that mind-set to the younger community.
I guess the internet gives us the opportunity to be worse people than we really are. I doubt half of the negativity people hint online would be told face to face in a live conversations. To write something on the internet you don’t have to encounter the awkward silence when your words sink in, you don’t have to see the smile fade from someone’s face and you don’t have to risk a fist thrown in your own. In this sense the internet dulls us of emotion and suddenly it’s okay to break someone’s heart because, well, everyone else is doing it and you’ll never see any consequences.
Maybe next time we’re about to post something negative or speak badly of someone we should pause and think ”Would I say this to this persons face, could this possibly hurt this persons feelings” but also ”Why do I have he urge to write this, what is it going to do for me?”. Something that you might not really care about, about someone that you don’t even know can take up their thoughts for hours maybe even days. I’m all for calling out your friends when they do something wacky but I’d like to believe that I’ve become a better person since my days of jealousy over my friend Erika’s new heelies. Hopefully, the future generations will never know about ”Jante-lagen” and they will be encouraged to grow, play and ride just the way they feel like.
I’ve spent the last 5 days working with Max Larsson and his crew from Husky Motion on our latest project for Lifeproof. Here are some shots from our first day of filming in Stockholm but now we’re up in Åre shooting something a little bit crazy. I can’t wait to show you the rest of the project! Stay tuned…