A few weeks ago I came across a horrifying video online that showed one of my favourite sites in my own backyard defaced with graffiti. Yes, I was quite emotionally charged about it, yes my mind went straight to a perceived sub-segment that could’ve been responsible, yes I started ringing around to see if anyone knew anything. Unfortunately that process was fruitless, thankfully some kind hearted and committed 4wders from a local club went out and remediated the issue the next morning.
Now, generally Four Wheel Drivers are interesting characters. Down to earth, knockabout, straight shooters that embody a camaraderie and willingness to get involved in every facet of the passion that is off-roading.
At the same time, the same attributes that exude that camaraderie, can also be quite divisive. There’s different sub-segments in our hobby. The tourer, the caravanner, the hardcore rock crawler, different age groups and more than ever, brand new entrants into the passion. The latter is something that can cause a lot of issues on many different levels unfortunately.
Now, with that in mind, back to my story. A short time after the graffiti had been removed from this site, I was shown some irresponsible activity posted to a social media group. Now I’ll be candid, the group outwardly seems to consist of a younger generation which are more intent on challenging themselves and their vehicles; not really an issue for me, because who doesn’t love to put their fourby through its paces? However, the general 4wding fraternity would clearly have a view on this sort of sub-segment. This activity quickly blew up for them in the shape of naming and shaming across various other pages. Did they deserve it? I think they did, but what happened next is the point. The admin from that very page went out of his way to clearly and unreservedly apologise; taking complete responsibility for it in the process. Despite continuing to cop the brunt of criticism and sometimes unfair treatment, he continued, persevered and is really putting in an effort to improve the profile of this community he has built.
The proof will be in the pudding, but to me, as a risk averse insurance bloke, I reckon this individual’s actions deserve some recognition and cred. So when an influential mate of mine reached out to invite me along to have a bite with this individual, I was happy to oblige and give up some personal time. I’d love to understand more about what he’s trying to achieve and to see if there is opportunity to help him also understand different ways for all of us to contribute to a more safe and responsible 4wding community.
There’s a saying that my old fella banged into me growing up, it went something along the lines of “help people excel and so will you”. In a time when most 4wd related businesses I speak to regularly are seeing strong interest and growth, presumably being driven by more people wanting to see our countryside, these words can see us grow as a community.
Imagine we could let go of judgement and typecasting? Imagine how powerful a force we would be if we focused more on educating and helping each other, really espousing the mateship and camaraderie that is on the surface of our community?
I dare say a united 4wding community, all supporting each other regardless of the sub segment, age group or experience would do a whole lot better in getting the eyes of pollies to get our needs met. Don’t you? Stay tuned.