Social media is great. It gives a voice to millions who otherwise wouldn’t be heard. Unfortunately, it also gives a voice to mean, angry, and hypocritical people. And when they get going, the nastiness spreads like wildfire, usually for things that really aren’t that serious.
We adulate and hate our celebrities at the same time. We indulge in hero worship but God forbid they make a mistake or do something that reminds us they are human. Then we turn on them in a rabid fury.
The NFC Championship between the Seahawks and 49ers is a perfect example. Cornerback Richard Sherman, a Stanford graduate and intelligent guy, went Clubber Lang on Michael Crabtree. Sherman was so hyped in a postgame interview, he virtually unloaded on Crabtree, probably spraying some spittle on Erin Andrews, who didn’t know what the hell to do after that.
His outburst was uncalled for and unprofessional. Everyone saw that. But what got me is the reaction to it. People vilified him and called him a thug. On cue, racist trolls infested social media like roaches, pouncing on the opportunity to call someone the n-word behind the safety of anonymous screens. I presume it made them feel better about themselves for some reason, but their hypocrisy was hilarious. They were so upset because a mere football player, who does nothing to put food on their table or pay their mortgage, yelled and talked trash to an opponent? And the only way they could express themselves was to hurl nasty remarks and threats at a guy they accused of having no class or tact? Clearly, self-reflection is in short supply these days.
Besides, isn’t that raw fire what NFL fans ask from the players, anyway? No one likes it when an athlete or coach like Bill Belichick talks to the media in boring sound bites and clichés. “Give us more,” people say. “We want to hear the raw stuff!” People love the ‘mic’d’ up segments, where we hear the trash talk from players. But when Richard Sherman fired off at the end of the game, while still overloaded on adrenaline, people ripped him. They got what they wanted and couldn’t handle it.
The media knows what it is doing. They seek these guys right after the game to get their raw emotions. And Sherman is already known as a fiery guy who talks trash. They knew they were going to get something juicy from him. They got what they wanted.
He definitely needed a timeout before he got within a mile of a microphone, and clearly, his display was unnecessary. Hell, his team had won. But he also did not bash the fans, the viewers, nor did he fill our living room with a stream of profanity. It was pretty tame, as far as outbursts go. And does anyone remember a guy named Muhammad Ali? The Greatest is revered by everyone. But he ran his mouth just as much and said FAR WORSE in his prime. He made Joe Frazier’s life hell with a slew of nasty racial insults. Frazier hated him for years and only forgave him decades later.
I have a feeling Crabtree will get over this well before a few decades passes.
And I hope others can get over themselves and their indignation well before that.
Because it just isn’t that serious.
What do you think?