Social Media: Reflection of Society

He isn’t the most coordinated kid in his class. Nor is he the most athletic. But, what he lacks in physical skills, he makes up for in enthusiasm and effort. For some, however, that isn’t good enough.

Winning means power.

Winning means status.

Winning means…acceptance.

The link in my tweet above leads to this Spike Eskin story on sports and social media. In Eskin’s story, he states: “The way people discuss sports, and sports figures on social media is out of control, and I’m not sure any of us know what to do about it.”

The way people discuss sports on social media is getting out of control. Social media gives fans a voice that they didn’t have previously in the popular sports conversation. I’ve championed Twitter for allowing the reasoned, knowledgeable voice of the fan into media/athlete circles. For as much positive there is in that, there is the negative that Eskin refers to as well.

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The issue is nothing new. I have been writing about this for the past couple of years. Others, longer. Social media helps convey (and amplify) the user’s message, be it knowledge, analysis, simple conversation, images, and instant reaction. That was the case for this most recent story involving Brandon Jacobs. Someone (Twitter-thugs as some call them) threatened Jacobs’ life on Twitter. The account (@DMmeboo) has since been deleted but the damage was done.

Jacobs shared a screen shot of it with all of his followers. As is usually the case, the story quickly spread on Twitter. Reactions did too. 

As much as I dislike the sweeping generalization of that tweet, there is a measure of truth in it. Had I just joined Twitter this year, I would be surprised by the Jacobs story. Having been on it for over four years, there isn’t much that surprises me anymore. It’s become a reflection of our society. Watch or read the news and that’s our society. Without getting too philosophical or political, society as a whole is worse now than it was say 10 years ago. It’s more of a “me first” culture than ever before.

There is a Henry Ford quote (h/t Forbes) that goes something like this:

Money doesn’t change men, it merely unmasks them. If a man is naturally selfish or arrogant or greedy, the money brings that out, that is all.

Change the phrasing a bit:

If a person is arrogant or uneducated or insecure, social media naturally brings that out.

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At the end of Eskin’s story he states: “90% of people handle their online selves with a sense of decorum. The 10% have lost control. What are we going to do about it?”.

Some believe ‘blocking’ people (in that 10%) provides the most benefits (‘haters gonna hate’). Others believe confronting one’s “haters” is key (don’t let the haters win). Ignoring them? Social media is a two-way street. A conversation between two or more parties. Hard to ignore hundreds of hate tweets when trying to respond to a handful of positive ones.

There have been media situations where someone has tweeted something ignorant or pulled a ‘stupid’ prank on the radio. Other media members call them out on it via social media. Word spreads. Action happens. Consequences and accountability take place. And hopefully, a learning moment for all is experienced.  

What are we going to do about it as fans? Call them out ourselves. Expose it. Word will spread. Action will happen. Consequences and accountability will take place. And, a moment of learning will be experienced.

Even as I type that, I am conflicted. Conflicted because I understand the big picture that is social media simply reflecting society. People are trying to find their identity in a culture of me-first. They’re trying to find it through their sports fandom – on social media.

“My” team. “My” school. “My” fantasy football team. If “my” isn’t winning, that means “I” am a loser. “I” don’t want to be a loser. “I” want to be a winner.

If that is the premise behind fan behavior, then fans calling out other fans only treats the symptom. It doesn’t solve the problem. 

What will?

He isn’t the most coordinated kid in his class. Nor is he the most athletic. But, what he lacks in physical skills, he makes up for in enthusiasm and effort. For some, however, that isn’t good enough.

Winning means power.

Winning means status.

Winning means…acceptance.

One teacher and one classmate decide otherwise. They see his gifts in other areas. There isn’t a math problem he cannot solve. He loves reading. He’s a helper. He’s an encourager. He knows how to cheer his classmates on. He spurs others to reach for something beyond themselves.

The teacher and classmate speak words of affirmation to him. Words that tell him…he is valuable.

Valuable = winning.

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CadChica Sports

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