I’ve written blogs before in reaction to things that have been written on social media after Albion games. It’s something that I have found is a cathartic process, but ultimately one that some will feel is just adding to the noise of what’s been written about the topics already. Nonetheless we all continue to carry on carrying on.
Charlie Brooker said in his Guardian column about the culture of exaggerated opinions on social media in 2014: “exaggeration is the official language of the internet, a talking shop so hopelessly overcrowded that only the most strident statements have any impact…in this increasingly binary world, if good equals amazing, bad equals catastrophic. Any disappointment, any setback, anyone who steps out of line – all instantly labelled the Worst Thing Ever.”
This Sunday the twitter hashtag #bhafc personified what Charlie Brooker was talking about. One-minute Chris Hughton is clueless, negative and running out of ideas. The next Brighton are 2-0 up and he’s a tactical genius, who’s outsmarted the great Jose Mourinho and never gets a move wrong. The reality of course is, as always, somewhere in the middle.
Much of social media discussion is this way of course. Exaggerated noise for the purpose of attention and ‘likes’, but that doesn’t make all this noise worthless. Debate & criticism are an important part of getting feedback for any task. However, some felt the need to mock and pour scorn over the avid critics of Hughton’s team selection before the game, who ended up with egg on their face.
Whilst I disagreed with the criticism of Hughton, I disagreed even more strongly with those mocking the opinions of his critics. By all means disagree and debate with them and try to better understand each other’s opinions, but don’t just shut them down and call them idiots.
Hindsight is 20/20 and on social media those who are proven right often make sure the other party knows about it subsequently, but it’s important to remember the state of play at the time of the decision making. Who would have predicted the Albion would be 3-1 up yesterday whilst entering injury time? I’d suggest only the most absurdly optimistic of fanbase.
It’s all part of the growing trend that demonstrated best on Twitter, where many have an inability to disagree. The culture as described by the professor of psychology Todd Kashdan of “attack first think later, if at all”. Condemning people because their views or actions make you feel uncomfortable will not lead to a constructive debate, something that is a crucial element for any organisation, even one that is so widely discussed as a professional football team.
Furthermore, creating a culture which discourages negative criticism, however absurd or ill-informed it may be, can lead to complacency. And complacency is something that the three teams who were relegated from the Premier League last season could easily have been accused of. The moment we as Albion fans begin to discourage debate and scepticism, even from the less informed, is the moment we risk creating a bubble of ideas and a lack of creativity at the club.
As the saying goes “football is a game of opinions” and those opinions often vary greatly on the most trivial of subjects, even among the highly paid pundits and commentators of the game. Pouring scorn on those you believe to be, or even those that prove to be holding absurd opinions only goes to cheapen and diminish the quality of the debate, whilst discouraging future debates. So, let’s all try to treat each other with a bit more respect and consideration. Or to paraphrase Albion fan Fatboy Slim: We’ve come a long, long way together, so let’s not behave like idiots now we are here.