I’ve ranted about random emails/messages/FB friend requests before. I’ve gotten to the point where I just usually ignore and move on, as they’re usually from guys and usually have a smarmy vibe to them. But the latest one left with me a twinge of sadness.
Last summer, I inexplicably became a big biking fan overnight and jumped in various random activities such as Critical Mass, a Tweed Ride, and a pub crawl on bikes. On such a high after the Critical Mass, I rushed home and spent the rest of that Friday night surfing the web for other two-wheel-centric goodies. I stumbled upon Chainlink, “a one-stop resource for Chicago cyclists to find rides and routes, share information and connect with other cyclists.” I created a sparse profile and jotted down upcoming events of interest. I don’t really use it to “connect” with others, I’ve answered a few messages from people I’ve met on outings, but usually just sporadically check it for events. Over the past year, I’ve gotten a handful of messages from strangers, guys who simply say, “Hey what’s up?” or something like that. Ignore.
Then I got this one yesterday -
Subject: crash last saturday
how is it going, was riding my bike like last Saturday looked down at the rear derail-er for about 10-15 seconds but before I could look up smack into the back of a parked so I got a fractured collarbone. That of fun of riding a bicycle in the city. Hope to hear from you soon.
I won’t even spend time on the spelling and grammar, that’s been done. First of all, why do you care how it’s going for me? Do you want to hear how stoked I am that my teaching programs are all ending and I get to spend the next week unveiling my students’ projects and basking in the kids’ excitement and pride? Do you care that I was delicate with my lower back today in yoga out of fear I’d tweak it again as I did a couple of weeks ago? I’ve got lots of upcoming travel plans, all very different from each other – Wisconsin, Michigan, Denver, Amsterdam – and I’m excited for them all, want to hear why? Second of all, I’m very sorry about your fractured collarbone. But why do I care? And “hope to hear from you soon?” What exactly is it I’m supposed to say to you? Offer to bring over some chicken soup and Seasons 1 and 2 of The Office UK? Refer you to a doctor? Ask you out for a drink because it’s obvious we’d hit it off, being fellow-bikers?
The sadness I felt when I got this message I think has to do with how it came to me. I viewed Chainlink as a utopian site, a community of fun-loving people looking to pedal Chicago together. Not as John Barleycorn-on-the-web. Who knows, maybe he messaged me because he really does care how it’s going for me. Which if that’s the case, I’m doing well, thank you. Or maybe it’s his way of saying, “Be careful out there!” But if he’s using the website to look for chicks, boo.