Etiquette (aka are baggy shorts ok for cyclocross ?)



Photo Credit: Debrett’s

I’ve been thinking recently, what links Dickens, Twitter, Christmas and Cyclocross ?  for me it’s etiquette which is something I’ve been musing on a bit, initially due to me reading some Dickens which is in many instances obsessed with themes on the ‘correct’ way that things should be done or seen to be done.  We are also of course rapidly approaching Christmas which is a part of the Calendar that seems wrapped in social mores.  Twitter (and social media) is of course a slightly newer beast than Dickens and Christmas but it too has had me wondering about what is or is not acceptable in terms of behaviour or etiquette and as I’ve mentioned before I’m thinking of having a go at Cyclocross racing next winter which raises a simple rhetorical question – are baggy shorts allowed ? (I’ll return to that in a moment)

So these four seemingly disparate things that are going on in my life at the moment are all governed, or not, by etiquette, or is it custom and practice or is it rules?  What after all is etiquette ?  When I was thinking about this at first I first thought of rules, but rules tend to be written down or codified.  The school uniform that has to be worn is a rule, etiquette has nothing to do with it for me so it’s more the unwritten stuff and more than that it’s the unwritten stuff that governs our interactions with each other.  If I’m sitting writing this on my own then etiquette does not come into play (apart from how I’m writing), however if I was surrounded by other people in an office doing the same activity our interactions would bring etiquette into play but what etiquette and how does it develop ?

If we go along this idea of interaction being the catalyst for the development of etiquette then every type of situation or group will have unwritten rules that govern this interaction which is quite a strange concept when you think of it and shows how complex we are having to learn and remember the different behaviours depending on what situation we are in.  Most of this is unthinking but we notice it when it is not there, think of when you are driving and you let someone into a gap – do they thank you and if they don’t how does it make you feel?  There is no compulsion, rule or law in this country that says they have to thank you but the etiquette demands that it be so.

As we form into social groups we develop what we feel is acceptable, we will be governed by the rules of what is or is not allowed but it is the subtle more nuanced issue of etiquette that will decide our emotional response to the interaction within these groups.  The world of cycling, like most interests, sub divides into numerous sub sets all with their own etiquette.  There are those of course who believe it is governed by The Rules which if you have not read them are a hilarious parody of the etiquette of cycling and seeks to answer the question of whether baggies can be worn when on a cyclocross bike.

Now I’m not a fan of rules particularly and have spent a large part of my life adopting the approach “well if that is the acceptable way of doing something then I’ll do something else” which is not an attitude that has always stood me in good stead and certainly at school brought me into some conflict.  As I’ve got older however I’ve developed my own personal values which are effectively a set of behaviour and attitudes that I’m comfortable with and can judge myself against when I look in the mirror each day.  I would love to see them replicated in others but that would of course be pointless as it would make people like me which would make the world a very dull place. It does help me however in my interaction with others, particularly in the multi layered and sub sectioned world that modern society now is (and I’m not just talking about the cycling world here).  So I don’t really care what you are, I care what your about and I will usually quickly be able to judge that by the etiquette that you display.

It gets trickier though doesn’t it when our interaction is non verbal and not face to face, then the message is so easily misconstrued we perhaps have to think more to ensure what we are displaying is what we meant to display.  I remember this most vividly when email first hit our screens and we had people SHOUTING in their messages.  Social media (of which I’m a pretty new convert) takes this another stage, Pseudonyms are common place and people have all sorts of agendas and non at all, it feels a bit like organised chaos if I stop to think about it.  This blog is almost a year old and I’ve been on twitter for a bit less than that again and I reflect now on whether I was going to use my own name or not and how I was going to behave.  For me it was quite easy I was going to use the personal values I hold and look to interact with people in the same way I would in the real world.  However how is this perceived by others ?  A quick example, if someone follows me on Twitter I always thank them and I do the same if someone ReTweets something of mine.  Due to the public nature of the forum however this will mean that everyone who follows me gets that message clogging up their timeline which is a bit pointless for them.  So am I being both polite and impolite at the same time ?  I could get round that by doing a direct message everytime but that just seems like total faff, or not thank them which seems impolite.  Also they may have decided to follow me and not particularly want other people to know that (for whatever reason) and me effectively broadcasting that fact is what they did not want.  This has left me wondering how I balance my personality and behaviour so that it fits in with the rest of that community ?

I’ve not read Debrett’s netiquette guide or infact any of their guides to modern etiquette, I don’t think I’m a Debrett’s kind of guy and I bet they won’t have an answer to the baggy shorts at cyclocross question that’s for sure.  I am however very much interested in your views and opinions.  What do you think the etiquette is or should be on social media and twitter in particular ?  What particular areas do you work in or are aware of that have their own particular etiquette – what are they and do you follow them ?  What is the view on baggy shorts at Cyclocross ?



10 thoughts on “Etiquette (aka are baggy shorts ok for cyclocross ?)

  1. Interesting and thoughtful. But does one have to change ones personal rules of etiquette dependant on the various groups with whom you interact? As for baggy shorts, wear what you like. It is more a matter of performance and comfort. But I expect that you ( and I ) did not harbour hopes of winning

    • Thanks for commenting Peter, in essence I totally agree with you – no you don’t have to change. I think if you are able to simply be yourself and be true to yourself then it is the best way. As I mentioned in the post I try to see people for what they are about rather than what they are. I’ve no doubt though that social scientists would notice subtle changes in our behaviour as we move into different situations even if we were simply just trying to consistently be ourselves.

    • Love that ‘etiquette is grounded in lost necessity’ what a lovely lovely quote. The mounting dismounting think is something that had not (when I wrote the post) occurred to me but of course you (and a few more who mentioned it on twitter) are spot on. Best shift some of this weight then before next year so I can get into something more appropriate 🙂

      • I’ve seen bigger guys than you in Lycra, Ian! Seriously though, you wear what’s right for you. It’s great that you are thinking of racing and appearances shouldn’t hold you back.

      • too kind. I’m def going to have a go. Looking at bike options and putting pennies aside at the moment. At some point may turn to you for advice on gears and stuff. Very valid point on the jumping on and off with baggies.

  2. Ian,
    I have read this article with some interest. I am someone who enjoys interactions with other twitter users and try to ‘be myself’ when in contact with them. It has made me think, do I treat everyone the same? Do I change for different people/circumstances? I have to admit that it took some time to have enough trust/confidence to change my profile picture from an ‘egg’.
    I have moved from having mainly ‘celeb/industry’ tweeters who I follow to more dare I say it ‘normal’ people and have to say my twitter interactions have increased 10 fold. Now has that changed how I react on here? I don’t think so, I am myself, should I re-tweet something? Anything? Yes, I find it more rewarding trying to help people/organisations I have some affinity with. Will it make a difference? I don’t know, but if by making that simple gesture I have done ‘my bit’ then great, what’s the harm.
    I am a simple person who likes simple things, I can’t make grand expressive signs of support, but if by pressing that button which makes the difference between an extra person seeing an important message or not, than what is the harm. I would most definitely draw the line at things that I believe are wrong or immoral and where an RT is only asked for in order to potentially harm someone/something, that would be ignored or discarded straight away.
    I think the ‘E’ word is important, as much as the way one conducts themselves on this or any other platform, will my views make a difference, I very much doubt it, will being my self and being true to who I am make a difference to anyone? Yes, me and anyone else is a bonus.
    As for baggy shorts, I think etiquette would in this instance call for something profound, something that will stand out, something important, and something inspirational, but etiquette suggests leaving it to someone else to comment/make that decision…You! (RT? ha ha)

    • Thanks very much for commenting, I wrote the post partly as it is something I’ve been thinking about and partly due to a comment made by somebody that got me thinking. On one hand I would never regard myself as having or observing etiquette but of course when I think about it I am. I think what you are saying – be true to yourself – is the right way to be and you are in effect adopting the Buddhist way – be the change you want to see in the world.

  3. Thoughtful post. My view is that you should be online as you are in life. You will subconciously alter your approach when engaging different types. Think it is good to let some of your personality into your posts, might not actually be possible not to. If you hold back or force a tone online then that would be just hard work. So just be yourself, warts and all. You will earn respect for that.

    • Thanks for commenting Phil, I’m with you on this after I decided to take the online step then my decision was to be who I am and the blog is very much a personal voice. I guess that the only thing I moderate is what I write about and how I write – all of which tends to be positive. I save my venting for down the pub 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s