Here be Trolls

Facebook Post about Mud Factor

Those of you reading this have probably already drank the kool-aid of one various OCR or another.  Many of you probably went to your first Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder on a lark with a co-worker or a bet from a former college classmate. I’m sure, at that event, you had a great time, were supported by people on the course you had never met, and were astounded to be at an event that was a mix between a 5k and Burning Man.

After the race, some people will grab their free beers and venture off into the ether, only to be seen at 5k’s with glowsticks and fluorescent paint for the rest of their lives. For others (myself included), a nerve is struck. You probably saw some large group of people with matching t-shirts on the course and did a quick search on Facebook. You very quickly found out that not only are there OCRs virtually every weekend, but there are giant groups of people that do them all the time, all over the country. If you are anything like me, you joined one of the groups tailored to your area, which quickly turned into following 10-20 different OCR groups.OCR Facebook Groups

This is all fine and dandy; these groups are full of the awesome people out on the courses every weekend helping newcomers over obstacles and promoting the sport of OCR, your newest passion. That is, until someone mentions any of the following: the word “elite”, proper burpee form, mandatory obstacle completion, Oral IV, Elevation Training Masks, mustard packs, or hydration packs (I personally am glad we haven’t devolved into constant debates over paleo vs. gluten-free vs. vegan vs. fruitarian diets… yet). Then, what started as #OCRUnited and people posting about workouts and improving their fitness quickly turns into a barrage of memes and negativity.

Except for my local group, I don’t post often, if ever. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a lurker, and in being a lurker I have learned what subjects will start a string of 50+ comments. I also discovered there is a cast of characters in various groups that have their niche topic that will always start a lively debate. But as I have lurked, I have noticed the profound love those people have for the sport of OCR.

These are some things I have identified that I hope can allow you to avoid or see past some of the negativity and enjoy the online culture of OCR, whether as an active participant or as a lurker like me.

  1. Don’t post about the above-mentioned topics. For anyone who has been around the sport for a while, these topics have been talked to death, so forgive someone if their response to the umpteenth thread about Oral IV is a witty retort about how it tastes like a certain bodily fluid.
  2. Try some form of outside research before posting a question. These groups can be a quick way to brainstorm an answer to a pressing training or race prep question, but you don’t know if the dude on the other end of the keyboard is a certified personal trainer or some random schlub like you. There is a great tool called Google (or Bing, Yahoo, AskJeeves, whatever) that will link you to helpful information. Use that and your own noggin, then maybe ask for clarification if you get conflicting information.
  3. Find a place you can make a genuine connection. By their nature, internet comments are generally stripped of context. If you don’t know the poster, you don’t know whether they are joking, and might be instantly turned off based on a comment everyone who knows the poster finds funny.
  4. Watch for the awesome moments where groups band together (for instance, the recent convergence of OCR racers on Mud Factor after concerns were raised over obstacle safety, refund policy, and customer service “etiquette”).
  5. Most importantly… Get over it! Someone is being as asshole on Facebook? Really? What else is new? Shouldn’t you be out training for your next race anyway?

The good news is, when the trolls come out from under their bridges and attend a race, they generally turn back into the wonderful, supportive people that make the sport so great.

Kevin Hill

Kevin is an OCR enthusiast from Minnesota. He finished the 2014 Ultrabeast while studying for the Bar Exam. He is now a licensed attorney who has never once read a liability waiver.

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