Imagine you have a 13 year-old daughter(or sister, it’s up to you). She has a boyfriend that’s 13 too, a lovely young French chap, seems the quiet, silent type. It’s all going about as well as a relationship between two emotionally immature parties can. Until one day the boyfriend hears she’s been chatting to another guy, so he changes his profile picture to one of just him, the girl is nowhere to be seen.
In the far reaches of your house you overhear teenage girls shrieking and crying “Why’s he done that? Do you think he’s dumped me?!”, “OMG he just unfollowed me!”, one simply replies “R U ok hun?”.
Replace daughter with Manchester United fans, boyfriend with Martial and “talking to another guy “ with “given Zlatan his number” and you pretty much have a stage by stage breakdown of the Martial/Zlatan number change debacle.
Yes, social media has entrenched itself so much within the sport that it is now capable of creating stories based off of nothing more than a cryptic change of picture by what are increasingly embarrassing, passive-aggressive young men.
Now I won’t speculate on whether Martial is one of these young men, and whether his social media portfolio has undergone a purposely pointed overhaul. But I will ask, has social media’s integration into the game gone one step too far? Do we really need this constant 24/7 portal into teenage angst that is seemingly threatening to swallow up the game we adore?
A club banning football players from Twitter or Facebook is an old issue, one not entertained very often in the present day. We’ve come to accept football players being on these platforms as the norm, after all it’s INTERACTIVE. It really gives the fans a chance to engage with their heroes yeah?
Except of course, apart from the select few who actually interact one on one with their fans, it’s basically a marketing tool for whoever sponsors them. First never follows is it? Or dream chasing? Or whatever the hell slogan has been tacked onto a hashtag lately.
Maybe, on a special occasion after a big win, the players will all pour on to twitter and celebrate the victory, thank the fans for their amazing support and throw on a couple of emojis. Because why not? It’s social f***ing media.
We won’t mention how (which means I DAMN WILL mention it) this is essentially tantamount to a very short press release or statement and involves no interactivity to speak of as it all comes from one side, the fans. We also won’t but will mention how most footballers are, 99% of the time, nowhere to be seen if they lose. Interactivity indeed.
Have you ever clicked on a footballer’s tweet? Of the first 20 replies, about a half will simply say the word “DAD”. I don’t know what this means and frankly I don’t want to know.
We as a race are not sensible enough to use social media responsibly, we’ve seen that in issues like cyber-bullying. But it wasn’t this that tipped the balance for me, it was when men we’re supposed to admire, and fans we’re supposed to identify with all started acting like teenage girls.
Enough, abolish it. Scrap it all. Though I’m not sure how you’d ever see this article. I feel a bit like that guy in Eminem’s video ‘Stan’(y’know, Stan), where he realised he had to send the tape out before driving off the bridge. Damn it.