Those silly comments keep getting mentioned - as much by me as by anyone else. I’m developing a theory that there are only three comments ever made to unicyclists by non unicyclists and only the wording varies considerably:
TYPE 1 COMMENTS
“That’s good. Well done!”
Comes out as:
I like that.
That looks difficult.
And a range of pseudotechnical questions like, 'is it a fixed wheel?" or “How do you stop?” etc.
TYPE TWO COMMENTS
“I think of myself as quite zany too, you know.”
Comes out as:
Where’s your other wheel?
Someone’s nicked your other wheel…
Dit dit diddle iddle it dit de de… etc.
let’s see you do a wheelie… etc.
TYPE THREE COMMENTS
“If I despise you, perhaps someone will look up to me.”
Comes out as:
More aggressive variants of the putative missing wheel variety.
How do we react?
Well, to TYPE 1 (Well done, etc.) we tend to be quite happy to lap up the compliments.
TYPE 2 (I like to think of myself as quite zany too, you know.) we all get pretty tired of, but perhaps we’re being unfair. Some of these people, if you react well, could be drawn into conversation and might even have a secret desire to buy a unicycle. At the very least, a range of witty one liner replies is useful.
TYPE 3? (If I despise you, perhaps someone will look up to me.)Shoot the boggers.
I think the above analysis is very well thought out and provides a great framework for moving this conversation forward.
What I would add is that the 3 types are really a spectrum of comments with each overlapping into the next.
There are pure Type 1 comments that require no further discussion except perhaps acknowledgement of the compliment.
Some Type 1 comments such as “How do you stop”, I think, overlap with the Type 2 category. These represent the cases that beg for more interaction. More below.
Some Type 2 comments such as “Where’s your other wheel” can be interpreted as pure Type 2 or sometimes Type 3 in that they are meant simply to be hostile.
And some Type 3 comments, particularly from drunk people and teens and young adults in packs are as indicated. Some though, again I think, are really Type 1 comments made by the extremely insecure.
So these represent a cycle (a tricycle, perhaps) in my view.
The most interesting part is the view that the Type 2 comments (and some of the Type 1 comments) represent an attempt on the part of the observer to somehow draw the unicyclist into further conversation. Yes, the comments may be repetitive and sometimes not terribly clever, but still there is an underlying desire to “get more into it”.
I know that when I watch somebody doing something that is both fascinating and skillful that I often wish to get more information but have no idea exactly what to say or ask. Often I don’t even know what it is that I’d like to know, but just want to know more. Watching someone do carpentry, for example, which I’m inept at, often elicits this feeling.
So in a lot of cases someone may be asking for more information by saying “How do you stop?” or “Where’s your other wheel?”. In the former case there is a direct reaching out, while in the latter we might have to be more creative in drawing this person into an intelligent conversation.
Just as there is a tendency for vendors to view their customers as idiots (e.g. all the tech support jokes) (although I’m sure the Drummonds do not do this), so there is a tendency for people with some special skill to view others with some contempt (always forgetting that those others probably have some special skill of their own).
So, a good post I think and whether or not engaging the Type 2s encougages budding unicyclists, taking this approach is certainly a way to educate the ignorant masses (oops - did I say ignorant) about unicycling and unicyclists, perhaps taking their understanding beyond the clown phase.
what does our respective responses to the three categories of comments (or commentors) say about us as people?
r u a better person for acknowledging the compliment, humouring the questions and ignoring the slurs?
or the other way around?
is there space for a ‘zen master’ type response that will allow u to treat all three categories in the same manner?
the thought that the category two comments may be disguised attempts to elicit more information from the unicyclist fascinates me
could it be that all three categories of comments have that one single goal? pursued with varying degrees of social abillity?
and that our choice to treat them differently diminishes us and our ability to interact with other people?
if we accept the ‘three-categories-of-comments’ hypothesis, can we divide ourselves into three categories of respondents as well? and if so, what are those categories?
Well as far as the whole zen master thing goes, I for one could not do it.
But, this is how i try to deal with it: type one questions like, is that hard? (when not joking), how long did it take you to learn?, how do you stop?, etc. can usually be interpreted as sincere comments to learn more, or to get more interaction, should at least be acknowledged with a freindly response.
I tend to ignore the classic type twos because there is very little to be said back anyway, and they just don’t understand why. (are you in the circus or somethin’?) Like the Apple Jacks commercials: we do what we like, even if you don’t see the purpose.
And as far as type threes go, they are usually screamed out the window of a speeding car driven by teenagers just older than me by (American) football jocks who seriously need some help, but seek acceptance by their friends by yelling obsenities at me. Unfortunately, I’m not old enough to have a concealed weapons liscence, and can therefore only throw rocks like an angry Palestinian. (no unfriendliness intended) As a collective, I think that we unicyclists tend to be selfish and only enjoy the good comments or random applause, because that’s what we want to hear, when in reality, the comments like, how do you stop, are the ones that are really thought out and come from a desire to know more about us.
(you can see my diploma for a pHD in psychology later)