Social media: a curse or a blessing?

11831644_10153485110075242_5160667625575736125_nBy Ian Hemmens

Please accept the following diatribe is purely my own opinion for better or worse and gladly accept advice or criticism as everyone is entitled to their opinion, thankfully. We are lucky that we are still able to pronounce fairly freely opinions on subjects which don’t cross accepted taboos or boundaries.

Lets get to the case in point, the growing rise of social media: be it Twitter, Facebook or any of the other ones now around for our pleasure or pain. I’m a fan of Facebook and Twitter and I am usually careful not to be too controversial or antagonistic, whilst remaining passionate about subjects and activities close to my heart.

Herein lies my conundrum: lately there has been a creeping movement, and I’m relating to City and football in general here, where so-called fans come out with the most amazing, incredulous and often abusive criticism of players, managers, clubs and fellow fans be it of other clubs or even their own. Reading some of the bile makes the hashtag ‘Football Family’ seem a little hollow and embarrassing to use at times.

I don’t want to sound too righteous because those who know me know I’m far from it, but I can honestly say that in 49 years of following football I’ve never booed a player on the pitch. Yes, I’ve walked away criticising and whinging and even cursing a performance. I’ve even reported a fellow fan for racially abusing a City hero of mine purely due to the colour of his skin. I’m proud to say he was banned for a while and, even though he is now back, he hasn’t repeated his behaviour and we have chatted about it.

We used to leave the ground and head for the pub to dissect the days game and let off steam, but nowadays the plethora of fans forums plus the likes of Twitter provide a lasting platform for fans to vent all sorts of views and opinions on any of a wide range of subjects to do with the club or the game in general.

I love to see others opinions and good sensible sparring and arguments are great and healthy for all concerned, but my problem is with the abuse by certain people. It’s becoming highly personal, totally over the top, sometimes abusive, certainly very distasteful at times. You ask these people to explain themselves and sadly you either get a volley of abuse back or the old favourite of “I spend my money, I can say what I like” answer. Very rarely do they give a constructive answer to why they have been abusive. Is it the perceived anonymity of the keyboard? For example would they call Ben Williams crap to his face?

They question the manager’s every action without seemingly thinking that there must be a reason for each action, however confusing it might seem to us fans. The nature of the business means things must be kept under wraps for obvious reasons. At the end of the day no matter how much we invest in our following of City, the club have a right to keep various things private and away from the public eye. That is no reason to pour abuse on individuals on social media. I’d ask these individuals if they ever have a bad day at work? Would they sit there and accept the rest of the staff bombarding them with filth and abuse.

I think it’s the way society is going, which is a bigger social problem that a lot of people want instant gratification and are not prepared to wait. That just a few matches in people have been calling for Phil Parkinson to F-off just beggars belief. Have they forgotten where we were before Parkinson arrived and where he has taken us?

Like them or not, the Board have maintained a prudent line in spending to the point where the club are now operating debt free after two administrations and possibly the closest call in the club’s history to going out of existence. Are these achievements forgotten so easily? Doesn’t the manager have any ‘credit in the bank’ for what he has achieved so far? Hasn’t the slow stability of the club shown the worth of the board’s prudent actions?

Why has everything to be instant or it’s ‘hell to pay’?

I might be getting old and cynical but I’d like someone to explain why they think firing abuse at any individual on social media will get them any positive result or feedback? Is it just the modern, if extreme, way of letting off steam or is there something more sinister behind the way the keyboard warriors fire a torrent of aggressive abuse every time the club don’t win or a player, god forbid, plays anywhere below their high standards?

Please remember this is my personal take on the social media platforms; please don’t abuse me too much if it makes you angry!

Categories: Opinion

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7 replies

  1. Social Media brings out very small percentage of Uneducated people.
    As one Bradford player said to me :-
    We have over 10,000 season tkt holders and only small percentage will use twitter & Facebook so I don’t take the comments on social media serious.
    I decided not to use social media that much to talk about Bradford City.
    I moved away from the forums & groups because really I’m inviting bad language and abuse into my home.
    One player at Bradford was forever getting abuse he wears our no9 shirt.
    Now he’s fans favourite lol.

  2. I imagine the number of idiotic opinions haven’t changed that much. Social media has just invited them all into the same room, a very big place, where really only extremely good or bad posts are noticed but all are given the same platform. That and the anonymity of the internet generally can be pretty toxic.

    Twitter can be great for getting information, Simon Parker linked me through to the article from his feed for example, but to access it you often have to confront a morass of human ugliness. I’m not sure it’s worth it.

  3. From the moment I started watching City as a child, there was always some ‘expert’ who stood/sat near, who would have an opinion on a player, a tactic, a manager, a chairman or indeed an opponent. In those days a few spiteful remarks would be heard by a mere handful and usually met (thankfully) with just a few ‘tuts’ and shaking of heads, before we all returned our attention to the action. These days, those same experts have tablets, laptops, mobiles, which enables their thoughtless shouts to be heard by a much larger group of people.

    As my dad always told me when on the old kop “just ignore them” and the best way to do that is to stay away from these forums and debates, which I have done now for a very long time. We all have our opinions and obviously they’re not all the same, but I would much prefer to have those discussions face-to-face rather than the faceless forums on the web. Generally speaking the people who post the vilest messages are not the sort we’d choose to attend games with, so thankfully we can still attend and enjoy the games and all the discussions afterwards or during with likeminded supporters.

  4. Ian – the best thing about social media is that you can switch it off. Always remember that you have that option. I don’t for a moment think that the board or Parky takes a blind bit of notice of it.

    • Agree I’d even go as far as saying they’ll be many who don’t attend home games just listen to the radio then give out loads of abuse on social media.
      Are there opinions anything for the player’s to concern themselves with?

  5. Sadly as it appears in general, the people shouting the loudest are the least informed. I like to think that players in know not to take things written on the internet seriously, but there’s no way on earth that they don’t check what people are saying at least sometimes.
    The internet has many positives, but it doesn’t half bring out the worst in people. Everyone can be brave enough to be a bully when they’re never going to meet the person.

  6. The need for instant gratification is borne out of the money floating around the game these days. Rich owners of Premier League clubs are of the belief that a poor run of form is proof that a change at the top is needed, and this attitude has filtered down to fans in the lower divisions. Managers rarely last more than a couple of seasons unless they bring tangible success, and we should be grateful that our chairmen see the bigger picture.

    Unfortunately those of us that frequent message boards and social media are subjected to the irrational, impatient rants of the minority.

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