Thursday, December 4, 2014

Goodbye Bikpacking.net

I actually wrote and posted this briefly last winter, but removed it after I thought that it had served its purpose. But people keep asking why I left bikepacking.net, so here it is again.

From the archives:

As many people know, I've been an active member of bikepacking.net for a number of years. Most of my posts have been about the Colorado Trail Race, GPS devices, adventure, safety, etc. It has been a fun and rewarding place to learn about, and share, the practical and passionate aspects of bikepacking and ultra-racing.

But I've also been a vocal and tenacious advocate of the "Do. It. Yourself." ethos and rules of ultra-racing, which has often put me in opposition to those don't share my perspective on the sport.

While I've received a lot of  support and encouragement for beating the self-supported drum, I've also received a lot of very pointed, angry, and downright aggressive personal attacks. These attacks sometimes result in "piling on" by those who relish reducing nuanced discussions to bar brawls and shouting matches. Some people simply aren't able to discuss complicated issues without lashing out. I never would have guessed anyone in the the bikepacking community carried so much hate in their hearts.

I've had enough.

Last week, I asked Scott Morris to delete my bikepacking.net account and remove my name from the system.

Scott and Eszter asked me to reconsider my decision, which was thoughtful and kind. But I'm done. The truth is that the lack moderation of the forums enabled the types of personal attacks that succeeded in driving me away from the site. There's no room for rational discussions when "fuck you" becomes an acceptable response to an idea. The anonymity of the Internet erodes personal accountability, which ultimately spills into the real world if left unchecked.

I'm not entirely happy with my decision. Actually, I'm really bummed. I feel like I've let the bullies win. But when the vitriol of the virtual world seeps into the real world, things get ugly. I've got other passions in life that matter more to me than those on bikepacking.net. I'd rather simply "Do. It. Myself." than absorb/deflect any more anger and hate. Which is why I'm "Done."

Cheers,
Toby

5 comments:

  1. Hey Toby, sadly, it seems it's not just the bikepacking.net forums that have become that way, they almost all are. In years past I posted regularly on mtbr.com as well but it's gotten to the point that if you comment in any way, someone will make a big deal about it. Thus, I have pretty much stopped visiting any forums.

    It sucks to lose a thoughtful voice such as yours. I come from the age of self-supported XC racing and I believe that bikepacking should remain that way as well. No matter what you decide, your voice will be missed but thanks for being there in the first place and for your valuable contribution. Stay well.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks wunnspeed. The support feels really good, and is much appreciated.

      Ironically, I'm the moderator of the bikepacking forum on MTBR.com. It's generally a pretty nice sub-forum--mostly because I immediately stop anyone who gets personal. Engaging discussions are welcome, but only if people stay on topic, which doesn't include flinging insults, making threats, or otherwise dumpster diving. Many of the other forums on MTBR aren't as civilized, so I pretty much stay out of them as well.

      I think that bikepacking.net would be a much nicer place if people had to use their real names. A lot of cowards love to hide behind fake names and shoot from the shadows. Foolishly, I used my real name--which opened me up to "real world" attacks from anonymous sources. Pretty amazing.

      My voice is still out there, but only on this blog. While my name is prominently displayed, I can moderate the comments--which is made easier by Google's anti-spam tools.

      Thanks again!

      Delete
  2. I'll miss you on there too Toby, but I understand your decision. I've related to your experiences very closely (regarding CTR mainly) and I've learned from and gained more from your contributions to bikepacking than anybody else.

    The whole self-support thing was never really that complicated to me. That was what attracted me in the first place, but its also why it took me 4 years of mental development before I had the courage to even attempt the CTR.

    I hope you will post on your blog more now; I'll still be reading.

    - Scott Shirey

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Scott. I'm happy to hear that I've been able to help. I've received a lot of help, and it's been nice to pay it forward.

      I'll try to be more active on my blog. I love this sport, and sharing is one way that I can express it!

      Delete
  3. Hello, I truly applaud your decision. I am new to the forums of mtbr and bikepacking.net so I have not come across your blog. But i have been following the forums for nearly 2 years. You are very correct that people love to criticize others from behind an alias. A pity. I have just gotten into bikepacking and love it. I read your list of racing styles and i generally fall in group 1 with a big exception that for me it is about "being." I have and continue to go through very personal difficult times and both mountain biking and bikepacking have helped me greatly. I do use my name on the forums and hope you don't mind me following your blog.

    Good luck on your future adventures! Let's go Biking!!

    Phillip Scott

    ReplyDelete