We call them a number of things a few of the more common terms are Jerry, Gaper, Gorby, Newbie, etc. We have good fun with it and laugh at them and share photos and videos of their hapless and clueless ways on sites such as Jerry of the Day (JOD). However, is this a good thing? I suppose that is not quite the right question but the right question is when do we cross the line from good-natured fun into viscous and self-righteous ugliness? When does it go from a harmless chuckle to tearing others down?
Enjoying displays of incompetence is nothing new, nor is it unique to skiing. America’s Funniest Videos has run for 26 seasons. In skiing, the annual bunny hill Warren Miller segment is a perennial favorite. More contemporarily, #EpicFails go viral. Enjoying schadenfreude is practically a national pastime. But the outdoor community turns this American hobby into something ruthless. When we’re more likely to share a photo or video of someone doing something we perceive as wrong than one that celebrates something positive, then it’s time to take a look in the mirror.
Jerry, Gaper, Gorby, Newbie, Etc — My Love Hate Relationship
I confess, I love a good Jerry of the Day photo or video. I recall watching one back-seated skier approach a kicker, he hit the kicker and it set him into a backwards rotation and he came down flat on his back and his skis instantly popped off. It wasn’t the skis popping off it was the physics of it all that entertained me. I would consider it a good video to demonstrate yet another reason to stay out of the backseat on skis.
However, lets face it. We all have been there. In fact, no matter how accomplished and skilled you are there are other people in close proximity to you who probably consider you as a Jerry. Know that people who view such sites in order to build themselves up count you as a potential member of the Land of Jerry, if they do it to others they will do it to you too.
Jerry, Gaper, Gorby, Newbie, Etc — Fear of Ridicule
A common reason people do not start new sports or activities is fear of failure and ridicule by others. In cycling, I have heard this same fear raised by others in not wanting to join races or group rides. I have talked with people who have refused to start working out for fear of how clueless they will appear in the gym. Surely, many have this same fear when it comes to Alpine sports? Do we need to provide yet another reason for people to not take up Alpine sports? I say no we do not.
Jerry, Gaper, Gorby, Newbie, Etc — Encourage and Educate
Banning things is such a thoughtless response to so much in life. Instead of working to ban or otherwise eliminate such sites such as JOD instead keep them in perspective and when you are in a position to photograph a Jerry, take a quick picture and think about offering some helpful advice (yes, I realize offering advice is often fraught with peril). I suggest not getting too vocal about your mirth. Instead celebrate the fact they are pushing past their knowledge and skills frontier and enjoying a sport you love. These people will help keep our ski and snow resorts open. Who knows, someday they maybe leaving you behind in the park or on the race course.
Jerry, Gaper, Gorby, Newbie, Etc —Build Yourself Up
Often times JOD sites are more about reminding you that there are others worse off than you. Many use those sites in attempt to make their skiing and snowboarding skills seem better than they are. That is, people view them to puff themselves up by tearing others down. That accomplishes nothing you do not get better and it in fact such attitudes will hold you back and they certainly do not make the JOD any better either.
Sure go ahead and view the JOD sites but remember other than some cheap laughs such sites do nothing to improve skiing or snowboarding in general.