Hi there internet, how are you today? Foaming at the mouth with rage? Viciously homophobic? Jaw-droppingly racist? Narcissistic to the point of implosion? All of the above you say? Ah, so just the usual then. That’s what I thought, now shall we continue?
Right, anyone out there considering starting a football website or just contributing to an existing one – let me offer you one pearl of wisdom. If you do not already possess a thick skin, then develop one fast. People can be really quite impolite after reading your musings on the beautiful game.
Comment sections on articles are usually moderated, so the truly lunatic fringe often struggle to get their electronic crayon scrawls past the lovely chaps whose job it is to keep misspelled profanities off their shiny pages.
No such “mentalist filter” is present when it comes to social media unfortunately. Brilliant as it is, at times it can be an almost lawless state. The very worst of human nature is often displayed in 140 characters or less.
Now this is not a lament about the decline of society, nor is it a demand for a mass jailing of “internet trolls”. In this country you are free to harbour as many “offensive” opinions as you wish – in fact it may help you rise to a position of power in the Tory party. The ability to freely say almost anything about anyone, no matter their power or status, is a cornerstone of our democracy.
David Cameron, every time I see your smarmy face I’m sick in my mouth a little bit. *checks outside for thought police, no sign, carries on writing*
What I cannot get my head around is why you’re all so bloody angry? Are you all in need of a hug? I mean as far as I’m aware football is generally meant to be fun, a distraction from the toils of everyday life. There are a large number of you out there who are quite clearly taking it all a tad too seriously. I understand football is a passionate game in which your emotions can be swept away by the roar of the crowd, in which you can be overcome by the triumph or tragedy of the moment. But these extremes of emotion and behaviour should really subside at the full time whistle. It is borderline – very borderline – acceptable for a grown man to shed a tear during a particularly devastating moment in his clubs season. It is not acceptable however for the same man to start blubbing at the mere mention of his personal footballing tragedy.
The “trolls” however experience no such normalising of emotion. They are permanently apoplectic.
As someone who keeps interactions with his fellow human beings to an absolute minimum, it’s hard for me to say whether these endless spurts of rage are common in football fans in general, or if it only inflicts those with a functioning broadband connection. What I can say is when I enter a football based discussion with my work colleagues I am not subjected to a torrent of personal abuse unless I’m talking to the kitchen porter but I’m starting think he just doesn’t like me. A similar discussion online and… well, my mother reads my articles and I’m choosing not to offend her sensibilities – even if she does swear like a fucking trooper.
The sanity of the worst offenders really must be up for debate. Perhaps the government could offer them free mental health check-ups? Or maybe we should take it in turns to pop round and make sure everything’s alright. Maybe make a cup of tea and see what’s really going on in their life, because it’s impossible to be this angry at someone you don’t know, for saying your team’s striker is a bit shit.
Football is at its best when not taken too seriously, when you embrace the games true entertainers. People like Djbrill Cisse – or Lord of the Manor of Frodsham, to give him his full title – a man whose sole purpose in life is to entertain, a man who strives for that goal irrespective of whether it benefits his side or not, a man who if his attempts to score are thwarted, he will simply get himself spectacularly sent off instead. How can a sport featuring this man bring to the surface the kind of hatred we have all been witness too?
I guess what I’m trying to say to any shouty sweary tweeters out there is – oh I don’t know, chill out a bit. Maybe try and get some sex?
Watching football is a hobby. If this hobby causes you to, for example, mock an individual over the death of his infant son, then it’s probably in everyone’s best interests that you find something else to do with your free time.
Oh and stop saying nasty things about my articles or I’ll tell my foul mouthed mother.
This article originally appeared on the sadly departed Football Project