July 14, 2020

Comments Policy Adopted After Flippant Facebook Post

HARWINTON, CT – The picture was posted Sunday on RIDE-CT & RIDE-New England’s Facebook page. It shows a group of motorcyclists socializing in Litchfield without wearing masks or following the state’s or the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for social distancing.

Accompanying the photo was the flippant observation “Social distancing? What’s that?”

Predictably, it got much response, with some riders spitting nails and engaging in profane name-calling. For that reason, a lack of respectful commenting, my plan this morning was to delete those comments and turn off the comment feature.

However, I found Facebook apparently doesn’t allow for comments to be turned off.

So, instead, I’ve deleted the post.

RIDE-CT & RIDE-New England has also decided to implement a policy going forward for commenting both on the website and on the website’s social media locations. The new policy is basically “keep it clean, keep it positive and keep it respectful.”

Being a journalist for 45 years, and a backer of the First Amendment, I fully support all citizens’ rights offer to their opinions. Any and all opinions. But getting in the gutter isn’t necessary, and detracts from the website’s mission of providing motorcycle news and furthering discussion.

Motorcyclists in Litchfield, CT on May 24, 2020

Yes, it bothered me when I saw the riders gathered so closely together. Being in a high-risk group for COVID-19 (that is, old), I’ve taken the governmental guidelines seriously. I’ve maintained six feet of separation from others, at least as best as humanly possible, and always have a face mask and/or hand sanitizer with me.

With 100,000 people having died, I see wearing a mask – even among friends in casual settings – as being a good citizen and not an infringement on my rights in any manner.

If wearing a mask and engaging in social distancing helps save a life, great! If it doesn’t, all I’ve done is wasted a little effort and breathed a bit of skanky air behind my mask. I’m not a scientist. I can only go by the advice of experts.

Getting back to the issue of the controversial picture and Facebook post, I mentioned that it was posted flippantly. Merriam-Webster defines flippant as “lacking proper respect or seriousness.”

I plead guilty. I posted it with a wisecrack, not to make any kind of political statement, rather merely to spark engagement. Nothing more. And it backfired because it took serious opinions in a less than serious manner.

I do hope that a positive outcome of this experience will be better, more informed and more thoughtful commenting on RIDE-CT & RIDE-New England and on the website’s social media locations.

All opinions are welcome. It’s OK to disagree. But let’s keep it civil.

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About Bud Wilkinson

An award-winning print and broadcast journalist, Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" vintage car feature for the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. He studied journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University where he received a B.A. degree. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville.

3 comments

  1. Its sad that commenting on a safety precaution is now considered political. I’ve been seeing this everywhere, not just in the moto world. In fact, Vegas opened back up last week. Look at the photos.. Its all “theater”. Precautions written up, signs posted, plexiglass put up, etc.. but in practice everyone says “to hell with it” and carries on as if nothing happened. They aren’t even requiring you wear masks. But I agree with you, live and let live. Move on and take the precautions you feel are necessary for you and your family. I’m on your side however, keep the mask on an keep my distance!!

  2. You handled this appropriately. Thank you for you dedication to journalism.

  3. I’m not bothered, Bud. I made one comment in response to someone else’s “wise-crack”, and then I moved on. Part of the problem is that people let these things get up their noses and then they feel they have to respond. It escalates from there.
    Facebook isn’t real. By that I mean, it has very little impact on my real life. I don’t think I interact with people on FB the way I do in real life. Also, I don’t think comments on FB ever change anybody’s mind.
    Keep writing and covering Motorcycle life in the Nutmeg state. I enjoy reading your stories.

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