The Wave and why it's viral…

August 7, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

I am not sure if I told you guys/girl (note singular) that I just bought a motorcycle. My grandma/mom don’t like it but it’s a blast! And no, I am not having a quarter-crisis. Noah, why are you writing about something non-business, we just want juicy business advice? Great question.

Disclaimer: This is not a picture of Noah

I want to talk about the wave. If you ride a bike you know what I am talking about. It’s the greatest feeling when you ride and you see a biker from on coming traffic and you put your left hand down as “the Wave.” If you drive a car you may hardly notice it.

Why does it matter?

  1. It’s a great sense of camaraderie to random strangers
  2. It’s viral.

If you get the wave the first time you are like, what’s this? Then maybe the 2nd time you realize what just hit you. Bamn, these are my random friends. And then guess what you do? I at least freaking wave to everyone, scooters included;)

This gets propagated and spreads like wildfire. Why do you think it happens?

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16 responses to “The Wave and why it's viral…

  1. joe d Reply

    who’s the girl?

    jeep peeps have a wave too. also, sometimes it’s peace sign, shaka, whatever. if i see you on the bike i’ll be sure to wave…one finger…

  2. Will Reply

    What kind of bike did you get and what happened to the Honda (is it still on the side of the road?)

    @Joe, I have had 2 Jeeps, and you are right, there is a jeep wave as well. Although I must say that those who drive pre 1986 Jeeps (AKA CJs) do not tend to wave at the Johnny come latelys. I have owned both and wave at everyone, if they do not wave back, I do the same that Noah E does, mutter something under my breath.


  3. Adrian Crook Reply

    In 2000, I bought an R6. I loved the wave. Made me feel like I was part of a cool subculture. Which is probably why people do it.

    I’ve also owned a Jeep Wrangler (YJ, in Canada) and experienced that car’s “wave” culture as well.

    Anyone catch the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry David tries to start a wave between Prius owners? It didn’t go as well as the above examples.

    I don’t ride bikes anymore because of this:

  4. Noah Kagan Reply

    I bought a used 99 Yellow Honda CBR 600 F4. Just like the one in the photo. I rode to lunch on the bike and I got a wave and thought of you all.


    WILD images!

  5. Marianne Reply

    People get the warm & fuzzies when they get random acknowledgement via wave or head nod from strangers, so they want to pass on that same feeling to others. In fact, I’m waving at people walking past my desk right now.

    Thank God you have that disclaimer, otherwise I would’ve mistaken that broad for you 😉

    Nice ride

  6. Britt Raybould Reply

    Totally and completely jealous, even though I’ve only ever been a passenger. Two friends in college had a bikes, a Honda R50 and a CBR 900, and it was always worth the tangled hair.

    The wave also happens when I’m running. Complete strangers are joined together by a common experience. The wave acknowledges that split second link.

  7. Raelene Reply

    New bike! Woot! And you guys wave, do you? In Melbourne we do a discrete nod; it’s much easier to disguise if it isn’t returned!

    The nod/wave is a symbol of a subculture, and it’s viral because anything that lends identity to a person will be quickly appropriated by others who seek to define themselves similarly. So, ‘juicy business advice’ = sell a subculture?

    Why do YOU think it happens, oh sage Noah?

  8. Jordy Mont-Reynaud Reply

    No way, you can’t wave to the scooters! 😉

    Loved the post. This is something that struck me when I first started riding motorcycles and it still gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling every time it happens out on a ride.

    I’m usually rocking the casual “lift the fingers up from the grip”-style wave, but you might have just pushed me over the edge to do the full thing.

    we should hit skyline some time…

  9. laura15SecondPitch Reply

    Okay, so I’m gonna be the ‘virtual mom’ of the group today. Have you all read Adrian’s post? No, seriously, go read it. It’s excellent.

    In business, you WILL get sued at some point or need to bring in a lawyer, so just be prepared for that day.

    And chances are you will have an accident at some point. Might be minor or it might be worthy of an episode of “Life in the ER” like Adrian’s was. Be prepared either way. Make your virtual Mom happy and go take a course on how to fall off the bike. Everyone I’ve ever met who has done this had an absolute blast and learned a lot from it.

    I know you guys are smart and will be careful out there. It’s the fact that there are a lot of people out there who are distracted and those are the people to look out for. And I left your lunch on the kitchen counter for you. PB&J with the crusts cut off. 🙂

  10. Karen Hartline Reply

    Though I don’t own a bike, I completely agree with the sense of camaraderie built in with owning one. There’s an instant ‘connection’, an unstated bond. I even think this is why people BUY bikes…they’re seeking out that bond. Either that or their crazy! (Just kidding about that. I’d hate to have an angry mob of crazy biker guys coming to see me!)

    I think we’re so desperately seeking personal interaction with others that the common bond (the bike) helps facilitate that. Granted, it’s a wave to a stranger who you’ll probably never see again, but you just had interaction with another human being. I know it always makes my day when I hold the door open for someone, say ‘hello’ to someone walking on the sidewalk or ask a cashier how their day is going. Personal interaction is so underappreciated in our technologically advanced society.

    The wave…it gets us out of our self-centered bubble, realizing there are other people out there, and gives us a connection; that personal interaction we’re all so desperate for, yet don’t’ know where to start finding it. Buy a bike…make random friends! (How’s that for a slogan?)

    Maybe I’m completely off the mark here and none of the audience will agree with me. If this is the case, I blame it on being at work until 11pm last night and getting hardly any sleep, or being called out in this blog (unless Noah is talking about his Mom as the ‘girl’). 🙂

    **Sorry for all the ‘personal interaction’ stuff. I’m working on a project which is making me think about how we ‘connect’ with each other. This is really where most of my thoughts are coming from.**

  11. gwin scott Reply

    i first did the wave in pac heights while riding as a passenger on my brothers fat hog/harley…except i did the wrong wave. it was more of a high right/gesture and my brother was livid–as it was the epitomy of uncool and broke all proper etiquette. i got cussed out. the next time i was riding solo on that same bike in phoenix and i did it right…and yes, it was a great feeling…an instant bond and connection with someone ill never see again. so here in memphis now, i have an old 88 l-cruiser and have instituted the ‘correct’ wave, although i have to roll down the window to do it, every time a similar model drives by. again what a great feeling….good content, noah…

  12. sundeep Reply

    a bike? ride that badboy up the 280 and let’s see it brotha.

    oh, and re: the wave, it’s all about identification, right? a sort of “i’m different cause i ride a bike” thing, and if you see other folks who’ve chosen to be different in that way, you share something, so you acknowledge them. the other biker “gets it”. when i’m riding my segway i’ll stop and *hug* other segway riders (we’re a small group, so we’re close).