Social media debate is too much for me
PUBLISHED: 19:00 12 September 2016
I'm not sure I like being a modern football fan. I am becoming jaded with the endless scrutiny of tactics, team selection, recruitment, ambition, budget spreadsheets and whether Ed Balls should be doing the paso doble or not.
I am actually learning to avoid having an opinion (irony of ironies this being an opinion piece) online at least, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
The world of social media is a volatile one and “opinions” can represent both oxygen and carbon monoxide. You can get into all sorts of spats with people you have never met and some you know all too well.
Debate of any kind should be welcomed and encouraged particularly around subjects that really matter like politics for example, but even there, opinions can be bad for your mental health and online political debate is starting to resemble Twitter at 4.55pm on a Saturday afternoon.
I have an opinion on Jeremy Corbyn but I am not going to parade this around online any more as it seems to upset a lot of people.
There I am enjoying a burger in the garden on a Friday night, when the phone vibrates to tell me that someone who is clearly ‘a few beers in’ has taken umbrage with my opinion.
Burger is then duly dropped and the debate rages on. That’s no way to live.
Such is the desire to respond instantly to news, much of what we post is highly perishable as far as ‘the truth’ is concerned.
Many posts are just as quickly taken over by events or debunked (or ‘busted’).
The original poster is then caught between pig-headedly arguing the toss or furtively deleting the post.
Football is a fast-moving world and thus caution can be a valuable ally when your club can often be considered both awesome and doomed within a seven-day stretch; sometimes within the 90 minutes itself.
Football as both a sport and a culture has changed beyond all recognition.
The stakes are so high now many fans’ demands are accelerating ahead of the often sobering reality of running a football club in the modern age.
When I was growing up in the eighties we fans felt that our voices were not being heard at all and as a result alternative football fanzines and supporters’ associations were launched.
A positive reaction to being ignored or labelled as ‘thugs’, this new football culture lived happily alongside the more traditional pillars of the game.
I wrote for an unofficial Norwich City fanzine for a while – Liverpool Are On The Tele Again – and loved it so much it sparked a desire to pursue a career in journalism.
Much of what I wrote makes me cringe a little now, but it was always delivered with tongue firmly in cheek and you gave yourself a few days to hone your argument, rather than five seconds.
Fanzine culture then led to magazines like When Saturday Comes and 90 Minutes and the highly influential 606 BBC radio show, first hosted by the magnificent Danny Baker. TV shows such as Fantasy Football League and Soccer AM followed.
Modern sites like the Norwich City fan site Little Yellow Bird Project owe much to those pioneers in the way it provides entertaining sustenance to the football fan refreshingly devoid of that headless hysteria.
I still use social media for team news and a bit of transfer gossip, but other than that, I am disentangling myself from it all and it feels great.
I am going analogue as it were.
I will debate with friends knowing that it can all be forgotten by last orders, but that is it.
In a world where every fan is fighting for the oxygen of attention, you can actually gain just as much kudos – and get to sleep at night – by simply staying shtum.
That way, you are always right.