Jerry of the Day: The new social media movement at the snow

The premise of Jerry of the Day is simple. Discover someone acting like a 'Jerry' (a gaper, a gumby, a clueless person who doesn't know how to carry their skis, strap up their helmet or negotiate chairlifts) and capture them on film without their knowledge. Then tag #jerryoftheday on social media.

The Jerry movement is big in the ski and snow world and the results have certainly been hilarious. More than 500,000 on Instagram and close to 100,000 on Facebook are losing themselves over the antics of those not in the know.

It is truly difficult not to spit out the morning coffee while laughing at the oblivious skier wearing her snow goggles upside down, the video compilations of double ejection crashes by under- or overqualified skiers and boarders, and the kid caught by his ski pants on the chairlift. Then there's the bloke skiing in jeans, the one with the bird that lands on the GoPro attached to a helmet. The list of hilarity goes on.

Founder Colton Hardy from Stratton, Vermont, describes a Jerry as "an individual who exhibits a true lack of understanding for their sport, or for life in general".

Jerry of the Day has inspired Jerry Hunters who actively seek out newbies to the slopes and surreptitiously snap them. There may lie the problem. Having a laugh at mates and tagging them on social media with their knowledge is one thing,  publicly shaming strangers is another.

Colton gets most of his content from Jerry Hunters who send their images to his blog or tag #jerryoftheday on their Instagrams. Fair call. It is difficult to know which are taken with or without knowledge and chances are if the Jerry is new to the snow world, and most likely they are, then they won't be following Jerry of the Day anyway.

But does that make it right? The very nature of Jerry is elitist. Non-Jerrys know something that Jerrys do not. They know how to be supposedly cool and nonchalant on a ski slope and have long forgotten the days when their ski pants ended up tucked into the top of their ski boots or their goggles left a gap between their helmet.

If I knew people were laughing when I already feel out of my comfort zone in a new sport for the first time, then I doubt I would return to the slopes and if I found a photo of myself posted by those who laughed at me then, if I was in America, I just might sue.

I am all for a good laugh. I have taken pics of the guy with the foam bike helmet worn genuinely as a ski helmet with the intention of posting it. I have posted images of the guy with the GoPro stuck out from his helmet and facing himself so that he can get selfies while skiing the groomers on a non-powder day. Then there's the woman who had garbage bags tucked over her ski boots lest they get wet.

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Hilarious because it's clueless, right? But then I have also had my own Jerry moments and laughed at myself when having them. Surely the best part of any life moment is when you can laugh at yourself, and Jerry is all in good fun, right? In a way, we laugh because it could so easily be us (except those images of the skier dressed in leopard skin without a hint of irony, that will never be us, never). It may even deliberately now be us and that's OK.

But public shaming is a dangerous Jerry game because shame cuts to our core and pushes our buttons with flashbacks to a time when we wished, usually first as a child, that the floor would swallow us whole. Only now when we feel that way, we have to look around to ensure no one is filming it.

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Follow Rachael Oakes-Ash on Twitter & Instagram @misssnowitall and on facebook.com/misssnowitall

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