Dear Armchair Experts – This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

It’s the internet age. Everyone’s done their own “research” and thinks they are an expert on everything. It’s become a major issue on all fronts, even with the modern-day reporting tactics of digital media companies.

We recently shared a video of a tree being cut down in the burnt area of the Caldor Fire. The video shows a tree, burnt to a crisp, with a private contractor felling it onto Highway 50 over the Sierra, busting the guardrail in the process. This video was meant to show the progress of the clean up along the highway and how this dangerous work is crucial to make sure the roadway is safe for travelers. Instead, it was meant with criticism and political nonsense, which led the videographer to ask us to take it down.

To all the armchair experts who flood our comment section with uninformed political nonsense and crybaby statements made only to vilify everything and everyone – this is why we can’t have nice things.

Although the post was brief and left with little explanation on our part, I thought the video illustrated the dangers of fire clean up and the progress made on the burnt areas over the Sierra. But today, everything on social media must be met with negativity. Comments mentioned the taxpayer costs (duh!), the unskilled nature of the fell (blatantly untrue) and people blaming both political parties for this issue (besides the point). Can’t we just take the video for what it is? Do we have to speak negatively about every single thing we see on the internet?

The video was taken down following a request by Josh Hagerty, who took the video. He explained how there was no possible way to fell the tree away from Highway 50 and how the compromised tree presented an immediate threat to anyone on the roadway. After receiving permission to fell the tree onto the guardrail, he did his job in impressive fashion.

“The tree was a immediate danger to firefighters and that’s the reason it was taken” said Hagerty. “But people are commenting in a negative way because they don’t understand what needs to happen on fire and I don’t want the video to misrepresent the fire community.”

You’re allowed to say whatever you’d like online – First Amendment baby. Just know that all you people who think you’re experts on wildfire and forest management, that’s probably not true. The people who manage our forests (yes, we’re playing management catch-up right now), the firefighters who put their bodies in front of the flames and the people who clean up the damage are the true experts.

Let’s allow these true experts do their job without ridicule. And just know that because of you armchair experts, we can’t share this information consistently with the public.

Zach O'Brien

Zach O'Brien is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Active NorCal

One Comment

  1. To the people who like busting people for trying HARD to do a damn near impossible job, Y’all go play political games elsewhere. The Fire-Liners do not need your crap. It’s dangerous and dirty work, but the low pay makes up for all that. A week ago I had a delightful conversation with a couple of you who think the States of Nevada and California should bill the Sierra Club for the fire damage. If youre going to make stupid politically- biased statements, at LEAST go take a class in Wildlands Fire before you do.I probably have classmates on the lines at Caldor and Dixie. Theyre risking their necks, among other parts, to make YOUR homes safe. Try appreciation….it goes a hell of a lot farther than denigration, and maybe one day one of those smoke-eaters will save your bottom from a scorching.

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