I am an optimist by nature. One must be, in order to be a lifelong Chicago sports fan — otherwise, the crushing realization that decades of failure are likely to be followed by a future that consists of more of the same might cause a person to take a one-way stroll into Lake Michigan.
I am trying to retain that optimism even as more and more evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, emerges that social media has warped humanity’s brains beyond recognition. I try to see some value in it — surely your second cousin twice removed would be unaware of your recent Jamaican vacation and how much fun you had YOLO’ing if you didn’t have a Facebook account, right?
Surely your 10 Twitter followers must know your thoughts on how to solve the morass in Ukraine, because you have figured out something that world leaders haven’t, and the world just has to know.
But even this eternal optimist turns into the Grandpa Simpson yelling at clouds gif sometimes. Seeing a video of a Tesla ending up in pieces — along with at least two other cars — at the bottom of a Los Angeles-area hill after some idiot with more cojones than common sense jumped it, Dukes of Hazzard style, caused me to want to just nuke of all of Silicon Valley.
If you’ve been on Twitter since Friday, you’ve probably seen the video. Or accompanying videos that showed onlookers standing dangerously close to the, uh, jump zone. Those latter videos tell me that this stunt was planned.
You may have also seen local news items, or posts from our competing sites, covering the story. It went, as they say, viral.
The cops are looking for the driver of the rented Tesla, which hit two parked cars when it landed. I saw a GoFundMe for the owner of one of those cars on Twitter this morning. According to Road & Track, the stunt occurred after a meet-up for Tesla owners and/or fans, and the owner of the @dominykas TikTok account has been identified as a person of interest by the LAPD. He or she posted a video of the crash with a caption saying “i just crashed my new Tesla.”
The cops further told R&T that they’re working with the rental-car company, the owner of the car, on ID’ing the renter.
Another Tesla driver jumped their Model X at the same spot in 2020. That driver is a YouTuber named David Dobrik.
Jordan Hook, the owner of one of the damaged cars — a Subaru Forester — was quoted by R&T as saying: “It’s this trend thing,” Hook said. “Everybody’s like ‘Oh I could be seen by Elon if I do a stunt or a trick on this street!’ It’s just gotten kind of stupid.”
He’s right! IT IS STUPID.
It’s stupid to jump cars on public roads, whether they are Teslas or Mustangs or BMWs. It’s stupid to stand close to the airborne car to get the best video for “the ‘Gram”. It’s stupid to risk people’s lives — oh, and a feline’s, too, as apparently a cat was in the car with the driver and passengers — just to get clicks and clout. Even if there is the potential for monetization.
This is where I admit, in the interest of full disclosure, that when I was a teen, I did some dumb stuff behind the wheel out of boredom/peer pressure/youthful stupidity. I even tried to jump my own car once, at much slower speeds and over a much more gentle rise. So I do get the appeal of “looking cool.”
Almost all of us did dumb shit behind the wheel as teens, whether we were car people or not. But we didn’t do it for Internet virality. And we grew up. We realize now how dumb we were.
It’s one thing to do something dumb because you’re a bored teen and you think you know more than you do. That doesn’t excuse this behavior, of course. But it’s a whole other thing to be a grown person — most rental companies require you to be at least 21 to rent a car — and to plan out this sort of event. It’s insane for the driver and onlookers to disregard their own safety, and the safety of others, just to “go viral.”
One guy lost his ride. Someone, or multiple someones, risk losing his/her/their freedom, depending on what the cops charge them with. All in the name of being the “star” of Twitter for a few hours, or a few days.
Yeah, I know. I’m the old scold now. For the record, I do think jumping cars is cool — but this sort of stunt shouldn’t be happening on public roads, especially in densely populated areas. Find a field and make a ramp should you want to chase viral fame.
No humans (or felines) were apparently harmed in the making of this video. They might not be so lucky next time.
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