Helmetlessness: Calculated Vulnerability

I so loved this
talk on vulnerability, I’m going to watch it again.

Like most talks, and books I read these days, I filter it though my prism of a bicycle blog article so here we go.

My favorite part about this talk was when she talked about becoming vulnerable to people in order to connect with them.

I thought, “Yes!”

Two often, in the helmet debate, people are talking past one another. One side points out that cyclists without helmets are more relatable and more human.

The other side says, “But, but you are more vulnerable.”

Yes! We become more relatable and more human by becoming more vulnerable.

There’s not much more too it.

I know that the other side is looking at crash stats and seeing the head shaking of an ER doc who’s repurposed as an expert on how not to live aka don’t so anything fun.

This kind of injury is exactly what vulnerable is.

So why become vulnerable?

We don’t have to.

We can cover ourselves with armor, do the right thing, at all times. Shun any kind of mind enhancing experience and keep our fears and pain to ourselves.

If we do this, we are likely to be hurt less, but we live less, too.

The ultimate in safety is to lock ourselves in a tomb.

I think that instead, we need to live. To get out there and to embrace some calculated and low risks.

To make ourselves vulnerable.

We might find that in the process our shared humanity allows us to surround ourselves with friends and allies.

Those who are occasionally and intelligently vulnerable might just be stronger than those who have locked themselves in a fortress while the latter might become prisoners in their own castles.

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4 Responses to “Helmetlessness: Calculated Vulnerability”

  1. Steve A Says:

    We should not forget that cyclists with (or without) helmets might have locked themselves less into a fortress than any motor vehicle operator. In societal terms, we’re talking about differences that are minor, despite what ignorant motoring ER doctors might claim.

    As noted at http://dfwptp.blogspot.com/2012/09/mirrored-reflections-on-safety.html I’m not going to criticize cyclists regardless of their choices about secondary safety items. I don’t think that was your INTENT here. And no, I haven’t gotten around to putting that mirror on yet.

    • Fred Says:

      I’m confused by your comment, Steve.

      My point was that not wearing a helmet made you look more vulnerable.

      Do you agree or disagree with this?

      The idea of “fortress” was to show that the whole notion of helmet was safety. Agree or no.

      See one of the most annoying phrases that pro-helmet people, when shown how useless that helmets are in many cases, is things like “you never know, or it’s always better to be safe.”

      Again, I question this premise.

      I didn’t actually think that people in helmets were in a literal fortress. Is this what you thought my post meant?

      Perhaps I didn’t write it very clearly.

      Sorry to confuse you.

      • Steve A Says:

        The point was that any cyclist is more vulnerable than any motorist and it is the motorist who is in an imaginary fortress. Helmets are a minor factor in that. You’ve made that point in the past. Cyclists arguing about helmets seems silly to me.

  2. Fred Says:

    You are making me forget my original point.

    I didn’t want to debate the actual relative vulnerability of motorists nor cyclists with or without helmets.

    My original point was that we can often connect with others by selectively showing vulnerability.

    I was connecting this finding with my desire to connect with the wider community in all modes while on my bicycle.

    It has nothing to do with whether someone needs to wear a helmet. The “fortress” analogy was based upon the notion that many people have that it’s socially unacceptable to take any risks which means that it’s socially unacceptable to have any kind of vulnerability.

    Not wearing a helmet makes one APPEAR more vulnerable and can be seen as an attempt to connect with others.

    Furthermore, I noted that while APPEARING (not statistical NOT advocacy wise vulnerable), one could gain allies and that they might be safer, as a group, in the long run than those who adopt the seemingly rational, but ultimately insane obsession with safety at all cots.

    Congrats, you inspired me to re-write my blog post.

    I really hope you do understand this, simple idea, Steve.

    You are a kind person, but I sometimes get super-frustrated in communicating with you.

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