Media, Scottish Football

Social Media Shocker: People Have Opinions!

Good Evening (and please vote ‘Clumpany’ by 30 October!).

The Clumpany enjoys it when people in the  public eye have a moan about what others are saying on social media.

People who make a living by having an opinion, taking exception to other folk having an opinion…

How dare these ordinary punters do such a thing?!

Let me immediately say that I have absolutely no time for abusive online behaviour, and people in the public eye have every right to grumble about and take action in response to it. 

As we all know, social media provides people with access to public figures that would have astonished previous generations. But that does not mean they are ‘fair game’ for harassment in any way, shape or form.

No. The kind of thing I find amusing is this sort of comment from Clyde SSB presenter Gerry McCulloch earlier this evening:

Really Gerry? 

I can see the headlines now:

“Man who makes a living talking about Glasgow football clubs, and spends a large amount of his time inviting others to do so, gets irked when someone says something about a Glasgow football ‘club'”.

It’s hilarious stuff isn’t it? At least he didn’t hashtag his use of the word ‘obsessed’!

As one wag pointed out, Gerry himself had only just made a jokey reference to English rugby during this afternoon’s Scotland-Australia game. How ‘off-topic’ was that?

Of course, Gerry might just have been fishing for a reaction, and I must admit that I half-expected a follow-up Tweet to say “…and if you agree these folk are obsessed, please call @ClydeSSB tomorrow night”.

But it never came…

Speaking of fishing for a reaction, this afternoon’s rugby brought some ‘classic’ Tweets from a master of the art: Ewan Murray. They included the following:  

I suspect I am in a minority, but I often enjoy a small dose of Ewan’s cynicism. When it isn’t laid on with a trowel it can be an entertaining counterweight to some of the powderpuff fawning of other parts of the media.

But sometimes I find it tiresome, and some of this afternoon’s output fell into this category. Particularly the mocking of those who had watched an epic sporting encounter, who came away from it feeling gutted, and who then chose to share their reaction with others who may (or may not) feel the same way.

What we witnessed this afternoon was the magic of sport. A contest which many people wouldn’t normally touch with a barge pole can suddenly draw you in, grip your imagination and then slap you right across the face. Unless you are a robot, you are quite likely to think and feel something about it. Hell, you might even write a few words on the subject. A bit like…errr… sports journalists do.

Sports journalists who no longer have a monopoly on published opinions thanks to the magic of social media.

I suspect Ewan knows all of this and simply enjoys the ‘banter’. But boy was it a bit tedious today.

Finally, we come to Barry Ferguson, whose most recent column for the Daily Record offered his unique insight into the world of  social media.

Barry Ferguson: Scandalous lies about Derek McInnes are exactly why I avoid social media

Aggrieved by Ladbrokes having suspended betting on McInnes being the next Premiership manager to leave his job, following online rumours (and actual bets), Barry had this to say:

“EVERY now and then I think about getting involved in social media, maybe opening my own account on Twitter”

“And then something happens like the disgrace surrounding Derek McInnes and I realise the internet is probably no place for a caveman like me.”

“There is an old-fashioned accountability about newspapers that does not exist now with anonymous people hiding behind their computers.”

“Twitter has its uses and I’m sure there are a lot of good people on there but it also has its share of absolute a*******s and this McInnes carry-on has convinced me it’s not the place for me.”

“Some of the rumours have been scandalous and it makes my blood boil knowing some wee faceless wonder has been causing all this trouble. Who lives like that? It’s the sneakiness I can’t stand.

“It bothers me that social media seems to accept this sort of thing. What everyone has to remember is we are all human beings. You can try to ignore it but these malicious rumours get under your skin.”

“They can affect things with your family. It doesn’t matter if it’s clearly a load of rubbish, some of the stuff sticks.”

Barry makes a fair point about the abuse that can be undertaken online, and it is good of him to acknowledge that there are some decent people on social media. However, he completely fails to acknowledge the positive things that it offers to football and indeed wider society. 

Social media can make people much better informed about the world, it allows ideas to be shared, and it can play a part in holding the influential and powerful to account. 

It can also help to break down barriers, create friendships, and – sometimes – simply be a great laugh.

Don’t join in if you don’t feel comfortable with your perception of what Twitter and other platforms are like, Barry. You stick with the “old-fashioned accountability about newspapers”.

But please don’t blindly slam something about which you seem to know little. There are a huge number of interesting voices on social media, and they are saying an awful lot of stimulating and worthwhile things.

They deserve to be heard. And they certainly aren’t going to be shut up any time soon.

No matter how many public figures might sneer at them.


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