I be rollin’ you be hatin’

4 Jun

What is it that so infuriates people about rollerskiing? The psychology of that interests me. I think one more reason why cars and alcohol don’t mix is that drivers are often under the influence of a motorized sensation of power. People manifestly allow themselves to be far less civil behind the wheel than when travelling as pedestrians. The car transforms both the mood and the perception of the world. With alcohol and motor vehicles you get that “synergistic effect” where one equally powerful psychotropic mixed with another gives a greater effect than a double dose of either.

That the car works like a mind altering drug may well explain the hair trigger that makes people go instantly ballistic when I’m taking up a 1,5 meter swath of “their” road while rollerskiing. But it doesn’t necessarily explain the root cause. Why is my vulnerable piece of meat on little wheels with spindly poles such a threat to their existence?

Maybe it has something to do with the nature of power. While you may feel powerful in a car, it is an uneasy, uncertain potency. Studies show a tight positive correlation between distance travelled by car and obesity levels. Taking the weaker position of biking, or walking or rollerskiing is, if you shift the scope from measuring immediate progress, clearly the stronger option.

Still,  I’ve observed that cyclists with their habit of travelling two abreast on Norwegian roads seem to garner fewer hostile responses from motorists than I do. Cycling is a great sport and I would never berate it. But the nature of their sport does make cyclists look more powerfully rapid and in control than rollerskiers. And I have on occasionally seen among them attitudes approaching those of car drivers.

So maybe my theory holds. Rollersking incites violent reactions because its all too apparent weakness calls into question peoples’ assurance about their own strength and potency.


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