You Need a Board to Surf

It seems there are a lot of things these days labeled ‘surfing’ that have nothing to do with digging into a smooth, curling mass of cool, blue water. Here’s what you should know about the real thing!

Whether “dudes” are clicking away at tennis shoes and instant gratification on their PCs — surfing the web — or flicking mindlessly through infomercials and the like — channel surfing — it just seems inappropriate.

Surfing is fun. It’s healthy. It’s exercise. In fact, it’s quite a workout. It’s just that surfing is so soothing to the soul — it doesn’t feel so much like exercise. Paddling out and catching a few good rides, however, isn’t comparable to nodding off while Tiger Woods wins another golf tournament.

Surfing, true surfing, requires so much more than a hard-drive, modem and mouse pad. Not only do you need a board worthy of flight on the water, but you must understand the ocean, her waves, her power and her ways.

When I think of surfing, I relive my glorious addiction to the sport. That first big wave — a 12-footer — when I dipped the nose of my board into the rushing water. The wave was turning into a wall and I was prepared to back flop as I had the first two attempts. But with a foot planted squarely on the tail of the board, I hinged into the side of the wave.

Surfing, to me, is the time I was out by myself in some rough stuff. Foamy, windy peaks that took a half-hour swim out in. After some observation to assess these wild giants, I managed to drop in on a good-sized one. Again, I was caught somewhat off guard as I locked into the chamber of the wave. Beyond my reach on the other side was crashing water. The wave was curling over me with room to spare. I’ll never forget looking through that cylinder to the beach. Another quick moment to verify it and I shot off the backside. That was surfing.

Not pressing mindlessly away at the boob tube. Not clicking with frustration at error messages and other windows. That’s not surfing.

Perhaps we need to come up with better terms for those other activities.

For instance, if someone is clicking from Web site to Web site, link to link, it might be called “mouse pounding.” Not catchy enough? How about “click tricking?” Anything but surfing.

Flipping channels should probably be called just that, but in the interest of an alternative, how about “remote reps” or “thumb riding?”

Basically, just avoid using the surf terms for aesthetically absent activities like watching TV or shopping for car insurance on your computer. We’d all be better off if everyone could really get out and surf.

But if you want to hang five or enjoy a ride, you need a board.

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