One of the greatest things about social media is how easily it connects us and the potential to feel decidedly more involved in peoples lives. Prior to sites such as Twitter, you may have saw your favorite player on the court and in an interview or two but that was it. Now with things like Twitter, Instagram, Vine and so on you can essentially get a behind the scenes look at your favorite players, as well as a decidedly more candid look at the player, his teammates and the team itself.
Even better is it allows for interaction, conversation and even discussion to commence between people that would have been unreachable without social media. I can tell you straight up that I doubt that in a world without Instagram I'd have a lineman from Purdue liking my food pictures I post online, that's for sure.
The problem is that these sites offer a voice to everyone and almost everything is not only public, but can easily be directed at specific people who will either see it or least get a notification over it. Therefore it creates a culture that allows constant scrutiny and an instant medium to deliver feedback, criticism and, even worse, insults and personal attacks.
One situation where this has became a major issue is college sports, recruiting, recruits and each individual teams fan bases. For whatever reason fans commonly act like a player not choosing their school was a decision made solely to spite them and so many people with open arms originally turn into keyboard warriors, firing off insults and personal attacks for whatever reason. Even more embarrassing is these tirades tend to involve grown adults targeting 15, 16 and 17 year old kids.
It happens relatively commonly and flared up yesterday when an Iowa target announced he was no longer considering the Hawkeyes and cancelled his visit. Could his tweet have been intended to be derogatory? Maybe. Could it have been a wording issue thanks to the limits of 140 characters? Possibly.
I'm happy to say I am no longer considering Iowa and have cancelled my official visit.— Evan Boudreaux (@EBoudreaux12) October 3, 2014
Regardless of any intentions here, the reality a small, yet vocal, group of Hawkeyes fans took the tweet as an excuse to berate a 17 year old high schooler for no longer considering their school. Suddenly a prospect they wanted to land was apparently "talentless" and worthy of personal insults.
I realize that most (if not all) fan bases have these kind of fans and that they're not representative of the fan bases themselves. But the reality is this kind of behavior still reflects poorly on the respective team and, fair or not, starts to define the entire fan base. Regardless, these recruits are still kids who are maturing and even if fans feel 'slighted' they should never lower themselves to attack someone over something so ultimately trivial.
At the very least you won't embarrass your team, your fellow fans and fans of the game. Not to mention you won't make yourself look like a douche to a kid, which is never a bad thing.