By Seb Kemp

Last week Dirt Magazine decided to satirize the development of hype. Rather than see it as the tongue-in-cheek poke at our insatiable desire to consume and the never ending development of bicycle technology – some of it genuine some of it perhaps not so revolutionary – many of the internet commenteers saw it as a tongue in the ass-crack of some sub-sections of the "industry".

When Dirt posted up a bogus story about the introduction of Ivor Hugh Jardon's ("he has worked for several years in the aerospace industry. As we all know, there's nothing better than aerospace stuff.") S.T.D. suspension system, a "holistic approach [that] encompasses the entire bike", readers, instead of chuckling at the obvious piss-take, started a riot on the message boards, some as good as calling the Dirt staffers irrelevant hypocrites.

"The Trail mode will have you ripping up level singletrack 21.576% faster, and you'll be going up even the most technical of climbs 33.967% faster. The benefits of are higher in the Descend mode though as you'll now find yourself at the bottom of a track 38.142% faster!"

Now, not every little shit with his finger on the pulse…of his tiny member and the other hand on his sticky keyboard, misinterpreted the lighthearted shenanigans, and Ed Haythornwaite, Dirt's long time tech geek and fruitcake connoisseur, had to wade into the mire of the message board to spell out what S.T.D. was all about.

"Personally I just wish the industry would stop being so concerned about adding bells and whistles to everything, and instead just concentrate on making products that work really well and are reliable…I think the problem lies in the fact that many manufacturers think they have to add some new doobery whatsit each year in order to sell new products."

S.T.D.GATE raises a few questions: What has happened to the riding public? Have they lost all sense of humor? Have they become so cynical of the independent media, but so willing to believe the corporate mouthpiece when new products are thrown at them? Why does commentary of anonymous on-line gobshites even matter? And if it does then what is this doing to our conception of what is right and necessary?

Anonymous commenteers or virtual comments board celebrities (some of them post such a dazzling amount of comments across several platforms that they become infamous and build up a sort of following), from what I can gather, are not at all representative of the kinds of people I meet face-to-face; their opinions are so utterly at odds with what most people on the street (or trails) report. More so, their on-line belches are so vitriolic and venomous that I'm glad I don't meet these kinds of people.

This leads me to think that the virtual world truly is that, virtual. Commenteers and forum users live in a safe house of anonymity that they can get away with things they can't in real life. It is a sort of blow off valve for society, a vocal, yet noiseless, demonstration of a larger anomie raging within.

You see, perhaps society needs an empty cupboard or wide open space where we can go to just scream at the top of our voice. Somewhere where we can shout out whatever we please, with no reprisal. Internet comments boards and forums are a cathartic device for a dangerously pent up population. People can go there, let off steam and then return to normal life, the real world of handshakes, smiles and pineapple banoffee pie, without being utter shits to each other.

And this is why it should be ignored. Not forgotten or buried, just ignored. What happens in the virtual psychiatrist's couch should stay there and any insight gleaned from these noisy worlds need to be taken with a pinch of salt. It shouldn't be considered representative of the majority’s beliefs or thoughts.

On a different note, this week the question of public and private life was brought into the spotlight. A teacher in Australia was the focus of a discussion about the on-line footprint we create after posting raunchy pictures of herself and making explicit sexual references on a public Twitter account.

So here, what one woman did on the internet did haunt her real life, whether or not that is wrong or not.