The StreetView Divers and The Case of Internet as Serious Win

Feb 11
2010

It’s said that the London Underground is one of the least friendly places in the world, where people will avoid making eye contact with each other, let alone speak. I don’t find this to be as true as the stereotype suggests (on the Central line, I had a hilarious exchange with a girl about American politics, late at night on November 4, 2008). However, as unfriendly a place as the tube can be, it pales in comparison to the Internet.

What I wrote here, plus the comments, speak of how unnecessary the online culture of gross impoliteness really is. Often, however, it is far easier to adhere to a better way of behaving if you have something to fall back on: the behavioural equivalent of the mnemonic device. This won’t work for everyone. Perhaps it won’t work for anyone besides me, but I saw something yesterday on Google Maps.

We’re in Norway, and we’re chilling on the side of the road in our diving gear.

Just reading the paper, as you do, in your wetsuit, with your umbrella.

So when you see the Google StreetView car, what other option do you have?

You chase that bastard down the road.

You chase him up the hill.

In your wetsuit, with your rake, you chase him until you can’t run any further in your flippers.

I don’t know why these guys chose to chase the Google car. Perhaps this is a protest against Google’s indexation of their neighbourhood. Perhaps they wanted to be on StreetView in the same way that people want to bob about behind field reporters’ heads on TV (although I don’t believe Google exactly publicises its drive-by schedule for fear of this sort of activity). Perhaps they were hanging out in their driveway in Norway in their diving suits, reading the paper, when they fulfilled my friend Danny Dover‘s dream and were allowed the opportunity to chase the StreetView car.

As a point, Danny and our friend Sarah did appear on StreetView. Danny, however, was not as lucky as the divers. He never saw the car.

The reason for the chase doesn’t matter to me. My job aside, this is what I like about the Internet. The random pieces of win. The parts of the Internet where you find true humour, no matter what its original purpose. It is reading an elaborate story without knowing that you’re going to be Bel Aired. It’s Rick Rolling Kurt Cobain. It is not publicly calling people names, starting blogs for the purpose of handing out curse-laden insults or posting shortened versions to Twitter.

Although the horror of our collective behaviour on the Internet has slowly been occurring to me for quite some time, this is my favourite metaphor for Internet as serious win. Two blokes running up a road in Norway in wetsuits. Think of this next time it seems like a good idea to write something horrible. Have a grin; do something else.

And the Underground? London in general? I will never ride the tube or walk the streets of this city in the same way again after watching this programme from Channel 4 about the incredible bravery Londoners extended to strangers on the Circle line on 7/7/2005. Now I sit on the train and think about what sort of person is probably sitting opposite me: a stranger who doesn’t want to make eye-contact, but someone who for the grace of God would be a hero.

It’s hard to walk around with a bad attitude when I think of strangers like that. It’s hard to be deliberately nasty online when I’m thinking about the little corner of the Internet where two blokes run up the road in scuba diving gear. I’d rather exist in that corner.

Be good to each other.

18 Responses to “The StreetView Divers and The Case of Internet as Serious Win”

  1. Kate Morris says:

    All I can say is “heart.”

    “Quality, pure quality” (in a nice British accent, and if anyone knows where I get that, 10 pts)

  2. Lisa Myers says:

    haha brilliant! Funily enough my brother lives in Rugdeveien in Oslo, I’m sure there are several roads called that in Norway but I will definately email him this lol…

  3. Jane says:

    Thanks Kate; definitely the best thing I’ve seen on StreetView and it’s serving a good purpose for me as well.

    Lisa, I would just love it if this were his street!

  4. Jeff Sliger says:

    I hadn’t read the article before I commented on your FB link. He in the Northwest we have had a rash of violence against police officers. Not cool. But recently as a Police officer was being attacked, a pregnant woman jumped out of her car and came to his rescue. The officer may never live it down, but it does send the signal that our citizens are fed up and not willing to ignore it anymore.
    PS I like to “moon” traffic from my office once a week. So I know Google didn’t drive by on a Monday.

  5. Julie Joyce says:

    This is so insanely awesome, it’s made my day. Yes, when I am ready to kill the parents of kids who create Facebook hate groups targeted at a damn 13 year old who has Asperger’s, I’ll remember these guys.

  6. Danny says:

    Thanks for sharing this Jane. It totally made my day. I can’t decide if I’d rather know what the circumstance was or leave it to my imagination. Silly Scuba Steve…

  7. Jane says:

    As Julie Joyce has just said to me, wetsuit, flippers, rake, chase. Something to live by.

  8. Kalena says:

    Spearfishermen attacking Google Streetview? I think Threadless should make this into a tshirt. Lovely. As is the sentiment of the post :-)

  9. Matt Burgess says:

    Badass, I just giggled my ass off when I got to the third pic!

    I like this. Keep it up Jane. Happy people make ME happy. So… thanks.

  10. Teifion says:

    It’s awesome, it’s the sort of thing I’d do if I saw the street view car turn up.

  11. Nedim Sabic says:

    Your twitter link/account isn’t workin’. :(

  12. Jane says:

    I deleted my Twitter profile a few weeks ago… I’ve been meaning to remove the widget, although I feel there’s something vaguely ironic about begging for followers to a dead account!

    I’ll remove it at some point :)

  13. Scott Willoughby says:

    Right on, Jane!

    It’s funny how distancing yourself from people who are so thoroughly negative can make a huge impact. After some very negative influences left the company I’m with, my work improved a thousand-fold, my happiness went through the roof, and I’ve been able to get back to really enjoying my job and the people I work with. It’s not always perfect, but I’m able to focus more on the good stuff since I don’t have people CONSTANTLY carrying-on about nothing but the bad.

    In his book ,God Laughs & Plays, one of my favorite authors, David James Duncan, makes the observation that he strives in everything he does–even the most minuscule of interactions-to make sure he’s doing it with love. Love for himself, for his life, for his surroundings, for inherent worth, value, and goodness inside every individual. It floored me. I’m far from reaching that ideal. I still get frustrated and upset. Silly things still piss me off. I still drive like an angry teenager and get mad at people who don’t merge properly. But it’s an inspiring point of view, and one I hope to cultivate throughout my life. I’m convinced, however, that it’s near impossible to do so if you surround yourself with people who’s actions and deeds are motivated primarily by cruelty, jealousy, and insecurity.

  14. Jane says:

    I agree 100% with what you say here, Scott, and feel similar about my life since distancing myself from the same negative influences. Took me a while to really start living it all the time, but things like this–as trivial as one is and as terrible as the other–just opened my eyes that little bit more.

  15. So Shife says:

    Now thats classic, I wonder if this is real. lol

  16. Kimber Cook says:

    wow. that is freakin’ awesome. you just made my friday afternoon more smiley. thanks, jane. :-)

  17. NetLurker says:

    I saw this posted elsewhere with the google maps co-ordinates attached..Yep,those guys are there for posterity!

  18. Marte says:

    Hey, I’m from norway, and it was only a joke.
    The two guys who did it told the paper it was a joke. You can read it her:
    http://www.bt.no/nyheter/lokalt/laquoDette-burde-vi-alle-gjreraquo-1770410.html
    It is on norwegian, but they said it is not a protest, they only did it for fun. So now you know :D

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