Wednesday 11 May 2016

Cyclist Hater Type VIII - The Snob

Cyclist hate isn't about how we see ourselves, its about how the haters see us. This may manifest itself in many different ways, but the most potently unpleasant mechanism is 'othering'. 

Its not that we're really 'other' - I get off my bike and walk and I'm indistinguishable from a non-cyclist. If I get in a bus I'm the same as another bus passenger. But all too often personal identity is wrapped up in how we travel, because we view that as a microcosm of who we are - just look at how cars are advertised to see that its aspirational, selling an identity and a lifestyle (or, rather, an unrealistic identity and an unattainable lifestyle).

Where we see people who don't adhere to that same identity we've a tendency to view them as 'other' - and this fundamentally is at the root of many of the problems we see with discrimination around the world. You recognise this of course - go on, watch the nose crinkle up when you suggest to a committed petrol head that they might want to ride a bike. Just like they've sniffed the water dribbling out of the composting bin. Disgust response. Plain. Simple. Unremarkable.

A snob is just somewhere on the spectrum of haters against, well, whatever they're snobbish about. And we're seeing plenty of this creep in to popular culture with regard to cycling - many on the political left view cycling as a damning sign of gentrification, linking it to people with beards and no socks drinking craft beer and being paid more than they ought. Some on the right see cyclists as scruffy, workshy scroungers. There are those who see it as a white-mans thing, so why would we fund any measures to make things better for men? Bloody elitist cyclists.  

But really it doesn't matter what the basis of this snobbishness is, its all the same thing, its just 'othering' cyclists. Wherever you are politically cyclists are the opposite of that, because your position is for people like you so THEY aren't part of that. If you're a Labour bike hater cyclists are Tories. If you're a Tory bike hater cyclists are elitist liberals. If you're a feminist you hate cyclists 'cos things done for cyclists are purely done for men... You get the picture. Every one of those arguments is, of course, bollocks. You hate them 'cos they're not you and you're wrapping it up in your own sad little cesspit of personal identity politics - and its all because you aren't capable of empathy with people who look different when they're on a different kid of vehicle. Pathetic.

So in a way the Snob is just a sub-species of the Brat - merely with a slightly more rounded (but no less fucking stupid) rationale for hating us. And the best argument against them is the very diversity of things they accuse us of being - if they're all to be believed we're workshy high earners who hate women but dress up in fake ginger beards to attract them while making an area more gentrified and scruffy at the same time.

It doesn't take a genius to see what the Snob is doing - they're projecting their own insecurities at us. Worried about gentrification? Cyclists. Is the area going down hill? Cyclists. What they can't see, what they cannot possibly fathom, is that cyclists are just folk - a diverse, broad range of folk who get around on two wheels. 

Basically you can't fix a snob. They're broken - they're too set in their ways to see sense, too adamantly stubborn to grow out of it. A snob is a brat who didn't grow out of it - they're to be navigated around and pitied rather than engaged.

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