Monday, November 21, 2016

A Powerful Tool That Is'nt In Your Toolbox

By Dean Reller
Thousands of years ago, man invented fire.  It’s said that later that day, he invented barbecue.  Fire, while feared at the racetrack, is a valuable tool that we overlook its value.  We cook, build, manufacture and control with it to make nearly everything we have.  Conversely, we destroy, dismantle, burn or injure things with it as well.  Controlled, it is one of the greatest tools that mankind has.  Uncontrolled, it can be one of the most destructive things we’ve ever discovered.
Flash forward in time and we have something not quite as spectacular, but a very similar type of tool that mankind has created.  It’s called Social Media.  That comes in several different forms, but can be used to create as well as destroy.  The only problem with this tool is the successes or failures aren’t as immediately visible.  As a race promoter, that being a track, driver or fan, it is one of the greatest things to come along in years.  The ability to interact is immediate.  A person can find out not only who won, but can see pictures and videos just seconds after it happens.  People can congratulate, thank and celebrate great moments in a person’s life very freely.  Racetracks and teams can use this positive engagement to promote races and race teams can generate excitement and build fan bases.  Not really thought of as a tool, like a wrench or a screwdriver, it’s very important for racing and its value is literally, virtually un-measurable.
However, the flip side of the coin and like that of fire, social media has the ability to destroy and dismantle.  Negative thoughts and comments on social media can be very destructive causing damage that could also be virtually un-measurable.  Recently, it was reported that negative fallout due to social media, partially contributed to a racetrack’s failure.  Although there was more than one factor that was to blame, it was certainly an eye opening moment that some thoughts and comments posted through social media could do that.  A bad night at the racetrack happens.  Things break, stupid things happen and once in a while it seems that everyone is out to get you.  As a race official and media member over the years, I can personally attest that you sometimes have one of those nights where you wished it rained and you could just go home.  Fortunately, those days are few and far between and the good days always outnumber the bad.
I’m not advocating people to just post positive only comments, but I caution everyone to consider choosing their words carefully.  Comments posted are virtual, but the people who read them are human.  One character flaw to humans is that we make mistakes.  In retrospect, a split second decision that happens during a race happens all the time.  There are no do-overs or replays, it happens and it happens quickly.  Comments and reactions are equally as quick and social media magnifies them.  So I caution people to take a breath before posting critical comments.  Much like that other tool (fire), let’s use social media to light the way and not get burned.

Photo credit:  Scott Searcy/Cricket Prints

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