Blinded by the likes: What is it worth?

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By Adam Brown – @AdamMNVi

As Liverpool fans congregated to watch the Reds take on Atletico Madrid on a Champions League Tuesday night, those across the world faced a common dilemma; the jostle between sacrificing sleep and watching the European champions kick-off in the early hours.

By the time the referee sounded the final whistle for Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano, the sun had risen in Perth, while it was time to begin your morning commute if you watched from the east coast in Sydney.

Football fans throughout different time-zones are connected through Twitter. At its best, the platform creates a sense of community, sharing real-time reactions amid the highs and lows of a season. Beyond sport, campaigns raising awareness towards important issues in society can benefit as a result of people working together; food banks, missing persons and missing items to name a few.

 But at times, there is a darker side to Twitter. Moments where moral value is put aside in an exchange of flagrant and controversial tweeting in return for potential likes and retweets; one issue, amongst many, which are making some consider whether it’s worth using the platform at all.

Poking fun at clubs after bad results is something football fans can all enjoy (and expect back) when the tables turn. Many basked in the glory of Barcelona’s 3-0 victory over Liverpool, now the Catalan club can rarely tweet without seeing a GIF of Alexander-Arnold’s corner to Origi. It’s a culture which those on the receiving end may find frustrating, but, at heart, it’s harmless – a back and forth between rival fans without malice.

Manchester City’s reported two-season ban from the Champions League for misleading UEFA triggered excitement throughout the football world. A calm Friday evening on Twitter erupted with reaction to the news; Would the English champions be in League Two next season?

Within 12 hours, what began as football-related jokes became a reminder of one of the platform’s biggest downfalls; the propensity for matters to escalate into senseless toxicity.

A moral issue?

The issues often stretch beyond football. Some will feel genuine anger as they write 280 characters of abuse, others will seek to create controversy for traction. Whether it’s an anonymous account hiding behind a footballer’s profile picture or a journalist competing for the controversy award, at what point do they consider; what is it worth? It’s clear for some journalists, the prospect of furthering their own career is greater than the risk of damaging another’s.



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Those who have read the work of Christian Fuchs (The sociologist, not footballer!) will know that research has gone as far as suggesting that people are lost within themselves on Twitter, paving way for a platform that fuels narcissism. Given some of the recent events in the news, it’s unsurprising – the controversy is relentless.

From a talkSPORT journalist abusing rugby player Danny Cipriani to TMZ announcing the death of Kobe Bryant before the family were informed, it’s clear some journalists lack consideration for ethics, and, therefore, are part of the problem for the toxicity which takes place on Twitter. They set the tone – and have a greater reach than the account with the Ronaldo avatar posting abuse.

There’s nothing to gain from using Twitter to deliberately cause harm. A post could have ten likes while another boasts thousands, but both will be forgotten within a week. Whether it’s a greater shared responsibility amongst users or tighter control enforced by social media providers, change is needed to retain Twitter as a place for both football fans and other communities to thrive. It’s a platform which everybody can enjoy if used in the right way.

Feel better about social media

    • Too much time scrolling through your feed can become overwhelming – don’t let it spoil your day. Recognise when you’re just scrolling for the sake of passing time.

 

    • If you don’t like what you see, it’s time to start blocking/muting some accounts. Sometimes it only takes one or two annoying tweets to leave you fuming if you’ve been caught on a bad day.

 

    • If you tweet often; care less about the ratio of likes and retweets. They don’t define the quality or validity of your opinion – if that was the case then some celebrities would have much less!

 

    • If it’s getting too much; I can guarantee you’re not alone and there are people around you who are feeling the same. Sometimes a break from social media is all you need – separate yourself from the endless spiral. At times, we’re all guilty of failing to notice when we have spent too much time scrolling through apps – take some time out to focus on you.

Reach out. Whether it’s a friend or follower, someone is always willing to listen. If you’d rather keep things confidential from your circles, Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call them on 116 123 or visit their website link below.

Samaritans UK website: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/

International: https://www.befrienders.org/need-to-talk

By Adam Brown @AdamMNVi

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