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The Unwanted: Unwarranted Advice, Opinion and Commentary

There’s nothing that bothers me more than people who believe that they have the right to tell others how to live their lives without permission. We’ve all had moments where we’ve felt that someone just had to know whatever we were thinking right then and there, and we’ve also all been subjected to unsolicited opinions at one time or another as well. Just because it happens doesn’t make it right. Everyone has opinions, and each of us is entitled to them, however, there is a time and place for our beliefs to be appropriately presented. Opinions are part of the structure of arguments, but if the situation doesn’t call for yours, or nobody asked for it, keep it to yourself.

This idea has bothered me for as long as I could remember and it wasn’t until it affected a close friend of mine that I decided to do anything about it. One of my former roommates and fellow parkour practitioner came to me one day to talk about some issues in his training. These issues weren’t solely a product of self but an issue stemming from the outside. He had essentially gotten some comments from people he had looked up to saying things like, “Cool tricks but you don’t really do parkour.” and “Yeah, you don’t really train.” Even though this wasn’t the first time hearing this, it hit me how hard the slightest words can effect a person, even those through a computer screen. Not only that, these comments were even coming from people whom I had respected, both as friends and athletes.

“Cool tricks but you don’t really do parkour.”

What gave them the right to tear someone else down? Who were they to say what he was or wasn’t doing? I  had always hoped that the act was thoughtless and unintentional as I know how it feels to be both the victim and perpetrator in these sorts of situations, and believe me, I got and gave a lot of shit early on.

I remember back in 2008, posting a video I was quite proud of at the time, and then receiving a comment from an athlete who I respected: “Cool moves but you run like a retard.” I’m not going to point fingers, but you know him. You can say they were just words, that it’s just the internet, and that people are offended by everything now days, but it hurt, and those words stuck with me. Enough that it may have been one of the primary, unconscious reasons I adopted sprinting technique and trained it so heavily after. I went back to re-watch the video recently and it is confirmed: I ran like an idiot. So thanks, guy!

When was the last time you corrected someone’s technique without them asking for help? Or critiqued their movement when they hadn’t asked? Or even asked for permission before offering your advice? Do you know the difference between constructive criticism and just being an asshole? In a day of keyboard warriors and internet trolls it seems like everybody has something to say.

Our community preaches respect, humility and, most importantly, the idea of community, yet we often foster the opposite. Debate, controversy, elitism and ego have been integral parts of parkour since its inception; from forums like parkour.net and the original Urban Freeflow to YouTube, Facebook and even in the real world while training. Even the founding fathers had conflicting ideas in the beginning. But I mean, it’s all just part of the human-condition, right?

So next time you consider jumping into someone’s business when you don’t have anything nice to say, think about fixing your own technique, and shutting that mouth. Thanks.

Unless it’s a rap battle. Then please, proceed.

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