This really isn’t something I’ve done before everyone and I wasn’t sure about doing it. You see, this isn’t a magazine or a media outlet and I am FAR from an editor or a journalist. The other day I came across something that’s really had me thinking – festering even. So here is my very first opinion piece – kind of like an editorial for dummies. It won’t be beautifully written and there will be grammatical and spelling errors as my day job is to run an insurance brand – so please try to understand the intent and ignore the lack of journalistic perfection. Here goes nothing…
I was flicking through Facebook over the weekend in one of those all too rare minutes where the tin lids were amused somewhere else in the house, when on the screen of my device appears the standard 4X4 clip. You know the one, old mate has pulled out his latest iTele 46, standing there recording while he watches someone hook up a strap to a towball. He was highly engaged, zooming in and out and passing judgement and commentary to various people out of frame: “this blokes gunna kill someone” he says.
Now the subject was a very late model dual cab. From what I could tell, the owner was still enjoying that showroom shine and the highway rubber from the factory. A neat aluminium tray and tradie-standard ladder rack were the only other mods visible. It was being tasked with the the noble role of snatching out a lovely old 60 series ‘Cruiser. I’m not going to post or link to the video, because this is certainly not about shaming the individuals involved – that’d be completely against the point of this piece.
Thankfully, both drivers and their vehicles got out unscathed.
Due to the more than liberal smattering of grey hair on my brain-garage, people usually think I’m ten years older than I am; not a horrible thing. One thing I definitely am is pretty old school – to a flaw if you ask some people. I never really got into the social media thing beyond having a look here and there, interacting with old mates and staying in touch with family; local and abroad. I only just learned how to use Instagram and just quietly still don’t understand the point of a hashtag. I’m usually the last to pull out a phone to take a video because you tend to miss the real thing – I guess growing up riding my bike from dusk to dawn is the culprit.
But I digress. When did everything go so wrong? Going back to the video in question – when did we all lose our ability to interact with each other? Obviously the person filming was experienced and the subjects weren’t. When did it become OK to film this knowing full well it could lead to disaster, instead of walking down there and trying to help the bloke understand what he was doing was wrong? Give him a pointer – show him how to pull out the towball and use the securing pin as a safer option? I know I’d rather have the subject have a go at me or feel slightly embarrassed when asked to “get lost”, than watch someone potentially take his or her life or embarrass themselves by damaging a vehicle. You may make a mate or have someone who could join your fourby club, but mostly, you have added to the skills and capabilities of another four wheel driver. We get a bad enough wrap without giving the naysayers more ammo.
Everyone talks about the need for more regulation, different licensing, mandatory training and increased education. We have great industry bodies like Four Wheel Drive Australia who along with their state based counterparts are working to promote responsible driving by supporting their four wheel drive clubs across the country. These guy and gals also lobby government for 4X4 friendly outcomes daily. A significant project for them currently is revamping their training structures with fantastic companies like Getabout and Tow-ed Training. We have government and legislative bodies breathing down all of our necks due to the few who cause the rest of us grief.
How do we make a difference? Well how about leaning in as a community? What I love about four wheel drivers is that we all pitch in and help each other. If you see a fellow fourby driver on the Canning with the bonnet up do you drive past??? I’d think not. So why is it any different to help what could be a future mate do things the right way?
We have a responsibility to ourselves. The world has become a little too engrossed in the little screen – we all bang an about the campfire and being away from technology. By posting, viewing, liking and laughing at these sorts of clips we are supporting the continuation of such irresponsible behaviour.
Help your mate ladies and gents – go over and have a chat and if the response isn’t great, then walk away knowing you’ve at least tried to do the right thing.