Hello, good people! I hope you’re having an amazing weekend.
I wanted to let you know that after much internal deliberation, we have decided to test out a brand new column called Who We Pissed Off This Week. It’s relatively self explanatory, hey? The Internet is ablaze in anger, and it has come to my attention that we tend to generate a lot of bloodlusty hate on a shockingly regular basis. YOU MAD! Of course, you mad. I’ve long believed that if you’re not initiating conversations, you’re not a good media outlet, and our typical modus operandi is to move forward after a tempest in a teacup. No time for the rearview. Life passes. Time passes. Anger happens, and we must move on or risk turning into raisin-y, pillow-y versions of ourselves. We can’t do that. The world is spinning, folks!
That’s not to say we don’t take our lickings internally, discuss and make adjustments where appropriate, but we thought it might be a constructive initiative to acknowledge outrage when it happens, attempt to contextualize it and provide insight from our perspective, and give you, our trusty, loyal readers, access to our logic in how and why we do what we do. Contrary to what you might believe, we don’t really want to kill all that you (and we) love. Not yet.
Off the bat, one thing that seems most consistently misunderstood in observing feedback, no matter the issue, is that many readers do not understand that The Inertia is a platform for a broad diversity of perspectives to share their work. We have 2,000+ contributors (and growing) of all kinds. That means anyone who is good at what they do (as a writer, photographer, videographer, artist or activist) and has an idea or work worth sharing to the world of outdoor enthusiasts has the opportunity to do so here. Just email us. If you don’t feel your perspective is represented, or you disagree with something you read, don’t get mad. You can participate! Lo and behold, this is the only place that will embrace you with open arms. That was largely the reason this thing started. If you think we disagree, you might be right. But we might run it anyway. Just email us. Our editorial team will have a look, provide feedback, and if your submission seems like a good fit, a million plus people might read it.
That makes us very different. That also means sometimes we publish things that as an editorial staff, we don’t necessarily agree with.
We believe more strongly in the value of building a platform where conflicting and diverse perspectives coexist than exclusively publishing things we support. Which means, in the span of one day, you might read an impassioned, thoughtful article calling for the culling of sharks for public safety and another, right after it, equally impassioned and thoughtful, that adamantly champions shark conservation for a healthier future. This might be confusing (even infuriating) for some readers, but we believe that offering the opportunity to examine issues from all sides, indulging multiple narratives, has more value than exclusively embracing a single, consistent (I’d offer boring, predictable, and closed-minded) perspective. At our core, we care most about fostering respectful communication, and the belief in people first.
Walt Whitman once said, ‘Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am vast I contain multitudes.’
And that’s us. That’s people. The only consistency we relentlessly champion is that of quality, respect, and embracing diversity, communication, and earnest self-improvement in the ocean and outdoors. On occasion, we make blunders, too, and we’re hoping this column can bring you a bit closer to our mindset, which is passionately well-intentioned.
And after such a longwinded introduction to this new column, I’d like to share that such is the case with the first installment of Who We Pissed Off This Week: Kelly Slater Super Fans.
On Monday, we published an Op-Ed by esteemed contributor JC Currie entitled Kelly Slater Has Lost the Plot. In this piece, Currie took strong issue with an unedited interview Kelly Slater gave WeAreChange.Org that touched on topics ranging from GMOs, homeopathic medicine, 9/11, the veracity of information in the press, and self-belief.
While a small minority of readers expressed some degree of support for the criticism, public response was overwhelmingly negative. Here’s just a small sample:
Inertia, you cannot possibly be this starved for content… While I agree Slater appeared unable to articulate any meaningful insights during his Wearechange interview, to lambast Kelly over the “zombie apocalypse” comment was a cheap, uninteresting smear.- Kenneth
Currie and his ilk are poisoning this site with their megalomaniacal hyperbole. Goodbye, Inertia. Sorry I wasted so much of my life here. Shame, you had promise. – Albee Doh
J P Currie, Kelly is awake and aware, you’re asleep and zombied out on TV and lies. Your opinion means nothing to those who look deeper than the lamestream media. So go fuck yourself. – TheMediaTellsLies
Kelly is beyond reproach. He is not a mysoginistic..drug fuelled radical racial bigot with no redeeming features. He’s our genuine, caring Hero. – Warren Grieve
Currie himself described the piece as intentionally provocative, with “acerbic” humor intended to draw a reaction.
After his column inspired such a massive uproar on social media, we had an email exchange about it.
“My view of Kelly changed when I saw this vid and I wanted to express that,” Currie wrote me. “Ultimately, I don’t care if it’s Kelly Slater. I respect what he has done in surfing, but he is not immune to flaws or criticism (or fucking cancer). He should be treated in the same way I would treat anyone else.”
And on that I agree. I’m sure Kelly would as well.
My concern with Currie’s column revolved not around the fact that it was critical of Kelly Slater’s interview. Great writers think critically. Great media outlets are willing to challenge icons. Both deserve a meaningful place in the fabric of The Inertia’s editorial offerings. Rather, my regret around this piece is its tone. It’s nearly impossible to read that piece and engage the issues maturely. And admittedly, that’s something we did absolutely nothing to curb. So let the daggers pierce us.
When we challenge our heroes, I would prefer that we do so more respectfully. In this context, I’d prefer that we offer competing statistics and data that enables readers to engage the topic more objectively. That’s not to say a provocative tone and entertaining language don’t play an important role in calling attention to interesting issues. They’re powerful tools in mobilizing an audience. My goal for The Inertia, however, is to ensure that when we’re critical, as I encourage us and our contributors to be, it comes with constructive intentions.
Beyond that, it’s undeniable that Kelly has played a critical role in enabling The Inertia’s development. If you haven’t seen this piece, this interview, or this event, you should have a look. They’re all exceptionally generous, thoughtful, and supportive gestures from the King that in some way mirror elements of the WeAreChange interview, and that’s not something I’m keen to disregard.
And that’s an ongoing challenge for media: indulging the ability to criticize influencers while maintaining a positive working relationship. But that’s something for me to worry about. Not you. I’ll walk that line, take the beatings on both sides, and do my best to figure out a way to make our most valuable stakeholders happy. But, as they say, you can’t please everyone. That doesn’t end well.
I have long admired Kelly’s willingness to engage topics beyond surfing. Surfers who don’t, put simply, are boring. They’re not fully taking advantage of the platforms their athletic careers have afforded them. Kelly always seems to be able to put his accomplishments into perspective and has never shied away from speaking on topics he supports. On occasion, I’m sure he could support his assertions with more data or more articulately, and he is not beyond reproach. No one is, and I salute JP Currie in his desire to bring attention to that WeAreChange interview in a new light. Currie’s writing is clearly powerful, and a valuable addition to the melting pot that is The Inertia community. But I do believe that our Op-Ed could have been done with more respect and in a way that enabled a higher level of discussion. Our bad. We apologize. But we’re glad it happened. It brought us closer and will ultimately make us better.
So that’s why we we made you mad this week, Kelly Slater Fans!
As always thanks for reading, and, we’ve even created a new hotline for your rage. To call attention to something you’re mad about for consideration in Who We Pissed off This Week, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time! Hope you get mad waves!