What the Hell is a Good Wave, Anyway?

Part 1: Lies


“Dude, I’m sooooo sorry you missed it! It was going off! Me and my bros had it all to ourselves at this sandbar down south, and it was just firing! We had sooooo much fun! Better luck next time, bro!” *smirk*

So how many times have we heard these words, or words an awful lot like them?

A zillion, yes?

And, after having heard these words, how many times have we found out later, from more honest individuals, that it was actually inconsistent waist-high local-fetch wobblewaves, coming out of a deep water trough, only to slam over (Well, at least as much as a waist-high wave can slam, right?) in six inches of water, with no shape and no hope of ever lucking into an actual makeable shoulder?

For myself, I’ve heard it all my life, and it has always struck me as one of the lower, more cowardly, forms of dishonesty. It’s a sneaky kind of dishonesty that attempts to aggrandize the life of the dishonest loser telling the lie, even as it slinks away from the cold light of truth and reason, hiding somewhere down the road, or perhaps in the distant past, where no one else ever manages to show up and give things a proper, honest evaluation.

This is bullshit, and as anyone who knows me will well attest, I fucking HATE bullshit.

So I do my best to cut through the cloud of lies, and get to the heart of the matter as best I can.

Which leaves us with the question: What the hell IS a good wave, anyway?

Or even a crummy wave?

Is there any hope of ever seeing clearly here?

Being a rationalist, I believe that yes, it’s certainly possible to view waves with a clear eye, and to further communicate that which is seen to other people in a logical, rational, honest way that can properly inform them as to what, exactly, may have been going down out there.

But before we set out to systematize things, we must first agree on a few terms and conditions, up front.

And before we even turn our gazes toward the ocean, we must first deal with the people we will be encountering.

And unfortunately, a far-too-large percentage of them are not in it for any kind of honesty in the first place.

These lying bastards must be eliminated right up front, and ignored resolutely thencefrom, if we’re even going to get to hope that we’ll be able to sort things out reasonably and rationally.

So I guess, even before I begin to deal with the subject of waves, I must first deal with the subject of people.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but people lie. The sonofabitches lie more often than they tell the truth, unfortunately. Lotta goddamned lying going on out there. So we’re gonna have to deal with that, right up front.

We must, therefore, before we do anything else, ruthlessly exercise a process that I call “identify and cull.”

Identify the worthless liar, and cull them from whatever part of your life their lies might have a detrimental impact upon, up to and including culling them entirely out of your life altogether, most often by means of causing them to autoselect themselves out of your life on their own, saving you the time and trouble of having to do so yourself. Be unpleasant enough to someone you wish to never have to deal with in your future, and that person will very reasonably decide that you are unpleasant, and they will then take their bullshit elsewhere, sparing you any further grief that they might have otherwise caused you. Sometimes, if luck is with you, all of their like-minded friends will do you the same favor as well.

Alright then, our loins are girded for battle, and we are now ready to identify and cull.

For the purposes of this essay, our culling will be based upon any given person’s proclivity for lying about waves, so we must perforce delve into the underlying fundamentals which form the basis upon which all the whys and wherefores of lying rest.

And we immediately discover that the reasons for people’s lies are highly ramified, recondite, and difficult in the extreme to properly figure out.

We’d almost be better off asking ourselves why wouldn’t people lie?

Might be a shorter list of things to contend with.

But I’m going to forge ahead with original premises here, and we’re just going to have to see if there might be any overarching patterns to the lies that people tell you, and tell themselves, about waves and surfing, ok?

The first Great Division of Lying has a fault line that runs right along the boundary between Lies of Commission, and Lies of Omission.

Lies of Commission are pretty easy to understand conceptually. If someone tells you they served in the military as a sniper with twenty-seven confirmed kills, one of which was carried out at a distance of fifteen hundred meters, but in fact public records show them as serving prison time for the full period of their claimed “military service,” then they have committed the lie of telling you something that is demonstrably untrue.

Ok, fine.

Lies of Omission, on the other hand, are a much more slippery proposition to deal with. If your wife, one fine day, decided that it would be a good idea to have sex with her boss at work, and simply kept her mouth shut about things from then on, coming home to you every night, and otherwise behaving in a completely normal fashion, she would be engaged in a lie of omission.

It’s what she didn’t say, that constitutes the body of the lie. By the means of her not saying anything at all, you were given to believe that all was well, when in fact all was most manifestly not well.

Liars very often become all puffed up and defensive over this distinction, and tell themselves (and you, and everyone else), that they never lie, because no lying words escape their lips.

They are of course liars all the same, though, and it is important to be able to limn these sorts of lies out, indirectly, whenever possible.

Cameras, oddly enough, are wonderful tools for those who Lie by Omission.

Take a shot of the very best wave that came in all day, crop it with care to hide all evidence that it was in fact a horribly closed-out piece of shit, put it up on the internet, perhaps with some lame-ass words about how the waves were “going off” at your secret sandbar, and hey-presto you have just created yourself a nice smooth photographic lie of omission to go along with your verbal lie of commission.

This kind of stuff happens all the time.

And needless to say, things are almost never so clear-cut as I am portraying them for the purposes of illustrating my points.

Things are usually manipulated subtly, understatedly, without calling attention to themselves, all the better to draw you in and gull you to greatest effect. Lies of commission and omission are most often soft-pedaled to make them less noticeable, less identifiable, less likely to cause you to sit up, take notice, and begin to question things closely.

The real world of lies deals in an innumerable number of nuanced shadings, hints, and near-imperceptible nudges in a desired direction.

Don’t plan on seeing all of it. There is no hope of that whatsoever. Far more than we’d care to admit is going to get by us, unnoticed.

People who lie understand intuitively that the best lies contain the greatest amount of truth. The truth which surrounds their lies gives them firm ground upon which to stand and trumpet their honesty and integrity.

Beware of this, ok?

The second Great Division of Lying splits matters between the parties who are being lied for.

People either lie for themselves, or they lie for someone else, although sometimes they lie for both parties, simultaneously.

Try to figure out who is benefiting from any given lie, and that lie then becomes somewhat easier to uncover.

People obviously lie for their own benefit, and that is easily understood, but why would they lie for another person, or another group? People lie for other people and other groups in order to indirectly enhance their own standing. Sometimes the group is family, and other times it is not. Sometimes the group is small, other times it is large. Groups may be tight-knit and well-organized, or they may be ad-hoc and evanescent. Regardless of any group’s morphology, somewhere, somehow, there is a direct beneficial connection, be it real, or be it only perceived, to the liar telling the lie.

If our liar counts themselves (rightly or wrongly, it makes no difference) as a member of a group (And who among us counts themselves as a member of no groups whatsoever?), then anything that’s done to enhance the group also enhances their own standing.

Simple enough, eh? It’s all self-interest, but that self-interest expresses itself in a surprising variety of distinctively differing forms.

Very well then, why would someone lie about something as trivial as the quality of some anonymous wave in the ocean?

“No officer, I do not know how fast I was going,” is the sort of lie that makes perfect sense (sort of) and should be easily-enough understood as to why it was told.

But a WAVE?

What’s up with that?

Once again, we’re about to hit a whole swarm of different reasons and justifications.

To understand why someone would lie about the waves they rode (or at least said they rode), or perhaps simply saw, we’re once again going to have to plumb the depths of the foundations upon which the lies in question are being constructed.

We’ll start with weakness.

It’s one of the more obvious angles.

People do not wish to be seen as weak. Ever. For any reason. Weakness, ineffectualness, impotence, and all the rest of those sorts of things are anathema to almost everyone. Humans compete for limited resources with one-another constantly, and anything that shows up an individual as unfit for competition will cause the people around them to want to tear them to pieces, figuratively, or, sometimes, literally. Not everybody. Not always. But often enough that it becomes one of the prime movers of human psychology.

And since nobody wants to be torn to pieces in any way, shape, or form, they’re going to work extra hard to conceal those things that they perceive as making them look weak. Note that “they” in the sentence you just read. This is a perception issue, and as is often the case, the perception may only exist in the mind of the individual who is laboring under any given belief or belief system, and no one else.

Which really does not matter in the slightest.

People will go to great lengths to conceal the perception of weakness, and that’s that.

Which wouldn’t be any concern of ours at all, except for the peculiar fact that certain people assign an amazing degree of consequence, both in their own lives, and in the lives of those around them, to surfing of all stupid things!

It is well beyond the scope of this brief essay to get into the myriad reasons why people do this, but this they do!

And once surfing has become excessively consequential in someone’s mind, you can rely on the fact that the person who believes such a thing will go to excessive ends to maintain their perceived standing in their navel-gazing universe of surfing.

This, without the slightest doubt, is batshit insane, but it is also, without the slightest doubt, a far more common a mindset than one might at first blush imagine it to be.

And so, our misguided, self-assigned, weakling determines that they must LIE to maintain their safe position in the group, or suffer the (very unpleasant) consequences.

“Better surfers ride better waves, so therefore I must always be riding better waves,” is how the internal reasoning goes, and from that multiply misapplied starting point, no end of bullshit will flow. Endlessly. Eternally. “Bullshito ergo sum.”

Lovely, eh?

We shall go no further along this route, and I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine just how many completely unique ways the above concept can manifest itself.

Another, totally different, approach toward a motivation to lie about waves and surfing occurs when someone has determined that there’s money to be made from surfing.

And money can be made by lying about surf and surfing in one hell of a lot of different ways.

Persuade someone of lesser intellect that they can become “cool” if they would only purchase that which you have to sell, and you may as well have been given a license to print money.

Put up a web page, plastered with ads, that offers a surf report which is everlastingly optimistic, and delusional fools will fall all over themselves, clicking and clicking and clicking in a desperate quest to find and ride a half-decent wave in the wave-starved wasteland that is Florida.

Persuade someone of lesser intellect that you are somehow a font of surfing wisdom and lore, and they’ll be much more inclined to purchase any trinkets that you may be purveying.

Persuade someone of lesser skill level that they will undoubtedly surf better riding that which you have on offer, and money will surely flow in your direction, as unto an incoming tide.

All of the above examples, and zillions more that I do not care to get into, employ everything from ever-so-slight exaggeration to outright blatant lying about waves and the people who ride them. Train yourself to stop looking for direct cause and effect, and instead search out that which is indirect, subtle, slanted, and perhaps understated, and you will become rich with finds of bullshit, everywhere you look. People demand credibility, and those who prey upon them will deliver it. All of it is fake, to a lesser or greater degree, but people do not seem to mind that for some odd reason. People want to be lied to, and businesses and businessmen understand this better than anyone.

Some people lie about their own surfing skills, along with fictitious waves which they have employed them on, in a fatuous hope of snagging more waves out in the lineup, despite the glaringly obvious fact that anyone at all can take one glance at them and determine that they are hopelessly inept. No wave for you, Mister Liar.

Some people construe riding waves as a sort of coin, and like all others of this ilk, seek endlessly to strut and bray about how they have more coin than you do. They wish for only one thing, and that is to make you envious of their great good fortune. Their coin is a fiction, and so is their happiness, but they know of no other way to get by, and will do everything in their power to persuade you that they’ve got something that you do not. Leave these lost souls to their private misery, because they know secretly, down in their heart of hearts, that in and of themselves, they are nothing at all, and need constant bolstering from external entities, in an endless and futile quest for personal validity. A subtle variation on this type of bullshit is seen in those individuals who everlastingly claim to have the most fun surfing. Many times, these people are Heroes of the Internet, and can readily be found taking up space on discussion boards and forums. Ignore them, they are idiots.

And some people just like to lie. They get a personal payoff out of putting one over on somebody. Trolls will always be with us, and nothing will ever serve to cause them to realize that they would achieve double the result, with half the effort, would they only turn their efforts toward constructive enterprises.

So now, having done with that which is not what it claims to be, can we proceed onwards toward a better understanding of just exactly what in the name of great and holy fuck, constitutes a good wave?

Yes. Yes we can.

We'll do it in Part 2.