Favorite Reporter

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Why Does Twitter make me Angry?

How is it that a small handful of hateful humans have ruined the internet?

So Chelsea Carey is having a bad week. It happens. It has happened to me countless times. It happened to Rachel Homan and Kevin Koe at the last Olympics. It happens to curlers everywhere.
The week is not yet over – as I write this she is at 5 losses, so she will need to win out and get some help to make the playoffs, which seems kind of unlikely – but who knows.

But the story that seems to be gathering attention is the focus on a handful of hateful and mean comments on Twitter. Basically a bunch of asshats said mean things about Chelsea and their team – calling them chokers, or implying that they are not fit to represent Canada.
I am also a follower of politics. From US politics, to Trump to Trudeau vs. Scheer, to Ford, to Notley vs.Kennney. I enjoy reading about it. But it has become impossible to be on Twitter without reading a constant barrage of hateful comments that are not based in disagreement on policy – but on just being mean.
I also follow hockey. I follow les Canadiens. But when I read Twitter, it’s like people think that calling Jonathan Drouin lazy or pathetic will somehow make him better. Or people saying Bergevin is an idiot for trying to do his job.
I just don’t get it. Does this come from a need to feel superior? The critics in all of these cases are in no way qualified in any way to ever manage the country, skip a team at any serious level of competition or play hockey in the NHL.

But Social Media just seems to have brought out the worst in people – making it impossible to read anything these days without getting angry or defensive. I am finding it truly a challenge to stay informed and connected without getting triggered by a barrage of people that seem to just want to make me angry. The worst people seem to yell the loudest.

Do you want to try to understand what is actually happening with the SNC Lavelin affair? Good luck filtering out the hate-filled, all-caps commentary that calls for Trudeau’s resignation, death or prosecution.
Do you want to read what people are saying about the Canadiens? Okay – good luck filtering out the comments claiming that they should all be traded and they don’t care and Bergevin is an IDIOT.
Want to read what people are saying about Carey at the World’s? Have fun reading all the dumbasses who think they are better than a 2-time Canadian champ who is just having a bad week on a big stage.

So here is my Golden rule for Social Media and my blogs:

I will only write things that I would be comfortable with saying to the person FACE TO FACE.

My policy on Social Media is to never say anything about anyone that I would not say to them if they were standing in front of me. Whether it’s Trudeau, or Chelsea Carey, or Jonathan Drouin, or Tiger Woods. That does not mean that you can’t criticize – or that you can’t disagree. But you need to always own what you say. Be prepared to answer for it. I am comfortable saying Carey does not look at ease this week – and I would feel okay saying that to her if she were standing right next to me. (I am not sure why she would care what I thought – but that’s another question). I think your right as a fan in any sport is to be critical of performance. But you have no right to make it personal.
Whenever I have deviated it from this – whether in my blog or on Twitter or Facebook – I have regretted it. 
I wrote some mean things about Brad Jacobs’ team a few years back in my blog. A lot of it was fair, but some of it crossed that line. Some was stuff that I would not have said if they were standing in front of me. Even though I had a lot of people agreeing with me, it was wrong. I apologized – but it still irks me. I should have been better. 
Since then I have stuck to this policy – but it definitely has not kept me from being critical or from making fun of curlers. But there is nothing that would not say if they were sitting across from me as I typed. (and has my blog has gotten more popular – this has become more likely). I also do not delete comments from my blog, even when they are mean and anonymous. I own what I say, and if readers choose to call me out – I am okay with that (even if they do not follow my golden rule).
I wrote last year that Matt Dunnstone’s sweeping looked like a llama playing tennis. Some accused me of being mean and too critical. But that comment passed my test; I would have said it to him live and in person. And guess what, Matt read it, and laughed, and answered me on Twitter.
I wrote a piece talking about Rachel Homan’s poor showing at the Olympics. It was critical, but not mean and not definitely not personal. I still stand by it, and it definitely passed my test.

So I know this blog is not likely to quell the tide of hateful comments that make up most of my Twitter feed – and if you are one of those people that feel compelled to be hateful and critical – that is your right.  But remember that it is our right to hold you accountable for what you say. So next time you Tweet something or post a comment, picture the person you are tweeting about reading it out loud right in front of you. If it feels wrong – don’t hit enter. If you can't be civil, stay out of civilization.

And if you are reading and following along on Twitter, ignore the extremes. Ignore the comments that are not thoughtful, that aim to hurt. Try to remember that they represent the worst, not the silent majority.
If you are Chelsea Carey, or Rachel Homan, or anyone else that dares to be great at something...when you step out on stage, it is fair to assume that your performance will be put under public scrutiny. Part of the reason you get to do this and not have a day job is because people DO care. They do want you to win, and they want to watch. Fan passion is the fuel that keeps the curling world running.
But you should give exactly zero f$%s about the musings of anonymous twitter heroes. Their words are like a stinky fart - unpleasant for a few seconds but soon gone and forgotten. And rest assured that the vast and overwhelming majority of Canadian curling fans cheer for your wins, and sympathize with you in defeat, just maybe not on Twitter. 

The internet has given us such a powerful tool to connect with people who share our passions. Curling fans now have direct access to the game’s best players - and in real time. We should not throw the baby out with the bathwater – but we have to be able to filter out the hateful dumbasses who are making our connectivity an exercise in anger control.