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Well, if being civil makes me a Metro apologist…

May 7, 2012, 11:27 PM

So apparently, my being civil and reasonable on the Twitter when it comes to all matters Metro makes me a Metro apologist. Go figure.

Today, you see, I finally decided that enough was enough when it came to certain “transit advocates” on the Twitter, and unfollowed them. Specifically, I unfollowed @MedievalMetro and @unsuckdcmetro. In both of these cases, there may actually be a point somewhere. But that point is lost in all of the other stuff that they post that is somewhat off message. In MedievalMetro’s case, I think that their main thrust is safety and maintenance concerns. However, they come off as ridiculing Metro, rather than making a point. For example, this tweet, discussing a staircase that was barricaded:

#WMATA even struggles with stairs. #maintenance Columbia Heights. http://twitgoo.com/5ppwz5

That particular one was enough for me to challenge them on it:

@MedievalMetro Without any other context, I can't make any judgment based on this photo. What's your point? #wmata

But that’s the general gist of what comes out of MedievalMetro. I started following them back when they were @MyMetroNumbr (or something like that), and were a lot more reasonable. Once they changed their Twitter name and avatar, they became downright hostile.

In Unsuck’s case, they throw so much stuff out there from their followers in the form of retweets that any message gets lost in the sea of retweets, as well as posts complaining about people who put their feet in the seats. I once questioned why people putting their feet in the seat is such a big deal, and the response was to ask whether I wanted to sit where their feet had been. I responded back that the feet are probably nothing compared to what else might have been on that seat. No further response there.

Note that I haven’t mentioned Chris Barnes, aka @FixWMATA. That’s because I blocked him months ago due to the amazing amount of hostility that came out of his account. He did at one time have a message. He was the #hotcar guy, i.e. the one who made a big deal about Metro cars where the air conditioning had gone out. That is important – cars with no air conditioning on hot days can be dangerous for people with certain health conditions. But all of Barnes’ hostility and downright rudeness turned me off to him. I’ll have a discussion with folks who are willing to be civil about it, even if we disagree. But the rudeness out of that Twitter account became too much for me to handle. So before I flew off the handle and said something I might regret, I just blocked him. This, by the way, is the same person whom I discussed on here last year in regards to a technical matter regarding PIDS.

Today’s unfollowing came with a little announcement from me:

So I unfollowed a few Metro critics today. Openly mocking the transit agency isn't productive, and my feed is better without them. #wmata

And the response I got from the accounts that responded exemplifies all that is wrong with this crowd:

@SchuminWeb #wmata openly mocks its riders every minute it's in service.

I think @schuminweb just unfollowed everyone in the DC area... doesn't like people who speak ill of WMATA...

@FixWMATA @schuminweb it's his party and he can cry if he wants to. just don't cry when he gets on a RL and derails. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsYJyVEUaC4

@SchuminWeb you know what's even less productive? Making excuses for @wmata. Thy take that as a green light to stay the same.

@VonniMediaMogul @unsuckdcmetro whatever you do, don't mock #wmata, @schuminweb will disapprove!

And that is how I know that I was right to unfollow these folks. Thank you for proving my point.

The way I see it is that Metro is indeed trying to improve its situation, and it shows. I have seen Metro at its worst. The summer after I moved to the area in 2007 and became a daily rider, Metro was having issues. It was at least once a week that I would be caught up in delays in one direction or another, and thus I would be late to work (for mornings) or miss my bus (for the evenings). Then Metro had another string of problems in 2009, starting with the accident and all of the fallout related to that. Reliability went right down the toilet for a while after that, with the absolute block being run between Fort Totten and Takoma, and various other slowdowns. However, Metro is currently doing fairly well in the commute department. The trains get me where I need to be when I expect them to. I don’t miss my bus anymore on account of Metro problems. Honestly, Metro is doing fairly well right now despite all the problems that come with being an aging system that is years behind on maintenance. My only complaints about Metro’s service right now are that Silver Spring turnback (a longstanding complaint of mine), and also that Metro is wasting its time in sandwiching the 1000-Series cars in between other car series (the 1000-Series cars still crush when placed in the middle of the trains).

Additionally, I am one of those folks who is able to tolerate off-peak track work and the single-tracking that comes with it. This is what we have to deal with now because of decisions made in the past. What is done is done when it comes to lack of past maintenance, but now we don’t have to continue it. If inconvenience now will get us a better system tomorrow, I’m willing to go along with it. I’m also of the assumption that the people who are in charge at Metro are not stupid, and that the folks who work at Metro actually, you know, might just know what they are doing, and that they do actually want to help you get where you’re trying to go in the most expedient way possible. Yes, Metro has its bad apples here and there, but what organization doesn’t? Most of the Metro employees that I have interacted with have been nothing less than professional.

Now all of this is not to say that I’m not still following Twitter feeds that discuss Metro. I also still follow Twitter feeds of some folks who are known Metro critics. I’m a Metro nerd, and I enjoy talking about Metro with folks, even folks who may have a different view on things than me. It’s just that I’m not putting up with the whiners anymore. I want productive, civil discussions, and not a bunch of whiners. I definitely gave them a chance and tried to reason with them, but in the end, it was a waste of my time. So I wash my hands of them. And my Metro ride to and from work (where I usually read my Twitter feed) will have far less drama in it as a result.

Web site: Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales discusses civility online at Georgetown (I went to this event, by the way)

Song: Right now, I'm digging the sound of not hearing these whiners whine.

Quote: And so there you have it...