Sunday, June 25, 2017

How Social Media Is Killing Football


I thought that by writing about death threats, it would be a wake up call to Milan fans from all of the Donnarumma controversy. But such is the power of social media that not only did they not even bat an eyelash that an 18 year old player and his family were threatened, they questioned the sources supplied, mocked the very existence of them as well as persecuted anyone questioning them. Which of course was only the smallest minority of people on social media. Then their hate fervor turned into forgiveness (or is that fickleness?) And then, when Donnarumma’s and Raiola’s social media accounts were used and said that they would meet with Milan again after the Euros were over, fans flip flopped again and started the hate cycle all over. Once again, social media is killing football.

You, too, can be an expert in 140 characters or less

This is hardly the first time I wrote about this or related subjects. Two years ago, I wrote “When Fans Were Fans,” and included links to lots of other related posts. Not that I believe for a second you’ll even finish reading this post, let alone that one or the other linked ones. Because social media has given us the attention span of gnats, and if it doesn’t fit in a GIF or a meme or 140 characters, no one cares.

That attention span unfortunately includes football. A football match is 90 minutes long. That is way too long for social media fans. So instead, people watch their Twitter timelines or Facebook or Instagram. They read what people are saying about the game instead of actually watching it. They watch the videos posted of goals or questionable calls, and then talk or argue about them as if they saw the whole game or know about every player on the pitch when they never even saw all 22 players. Because with social media, everyone is an expert, and when your expertise comes into question, you can just insult people. It’s just words.

I'm 90% sure this is the age and IQ level of so many people who attack people on Twitter

Who cares if 22 players poured their sweat and blood into 90 minutes when there are accounts who will make up funny tweets or post gifs or pics or insults that are way more interesting? And why bother finding out anything about new players or actual official transfer news? Who needs actual facts when you can just follow the masses blindly and believe whatever they tell you? There are accounts who will post a graphic or a stat which tell you all you need to know about a player to sound like an expert. And if that fails, there are always the insults. And bullying. Because, as Donnarumma has learned, what people say about you is always more important than what you actually say yourself.

The Donnarumma saga, the De Sciglio saga, the Montolivo saga, and all of the lesser ones have highlighted the way that social media has impacted football negatively in real life. People are going to believe what they want, and social media gives them a very warped sense of reality. Whom they choose to follow and how they interact makes them believe that their own skewed misconceptions of what is really happening on the pitch or in real life are actually real. Or perhaps it gives people without opinions of their own something to believe in. But as the years have gone by, people are more hostile, less in touch with reality, and less likely to even try to have a normal conversation on social media. They know less about tactics, less about their players and less everything at the club, and they also care less about what they actually know about. Because social media moves much faster than football, and after all, it’s just words. Social media is now the sport, and football is just the background.

The power to be ignorant, right at your finger tips

On a personal level, I know that my block list on Twitter will soon rival the number of people who follow me. The threats and abuse I receive for sharing facts and my own opinions is becoming more common. After having to deal with law enforcement officials for what became more than “just words,” I don’t waste my time anymore. That, along with the overall lack of a thread of human decency and the incessant jabbering of people who only want to argue or attack but don’t actually have anything to argue about, is ruining my football experience for sure. It is hard to find anyone who definitively knows about or wants to talk about actual football, let alone is willing to converse beyond 140 characters. Whatever the current trendy accounts are saying, whether real or opinion, is all people want to talk about or read about. Until the next talking point comes along seconds later.

That kind of fake and frenetic stream of words and images is nothing like the actual game anymore, nor are the people caught up in the tides actual fans of a team or players anymore. It’s just a bunch of twisted opinions, misinformation, and hate. For example, as much as Donnarumma has been discussed on social media the past couple of weeks, how many of you actually watched him play for the Italy U21 team? Or the Italy senior national team? And yet everyone on social media claims to know what is actually going on. They are truly out of touch with his reality, which is still actual football. Because he still plays football. You know that game that everyone around here claims to love and watch?

This post, now deleted, brought the hate level back up from 10% to 75% in a single click

We have seen time and time again how social media has filtered its way through and is impacting real life. From the Curva Sud and their senseless and untimely boycotts, to abusing players both virtually and in real life, to players claiming to be hacked or closing their accounts because the people who claim to support them are now attacking them… social media has found a way to ruin the beautiful game. People on social media have found a way to ruin the beautiful game. And something that once used to be a great way to share information and share football with other people has become a place where people lose all humanity and just waste time and energy spewing words and images. Ironically, something that used to support the beautiful game and bring people together is now killing football.


This post inspired by the music of The Kills

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