Michael 84

Social Media Is BETTER Without Football? Here’s What The Boycott Showed Us

Lifestyle
Wednesday, 5th May, 2021

Social Media vs Football Boycott - Is Social Media Better WITHOUT Football

Social Media is better without football…Wait? Did I say that? Social media is BETTER without football?

Yes I did.

Or to be specific, better without The Premier League and it’s media partners.

Here’s why I think that, what I’ll be doing next, and what the boycott has shown us.

First, here’s a little catch up…

So yes, the boycott of social media happened. If you didn’t know, the Premier League, the English F.A., English broadcasters such as SKY Sports, some footballers and others decided to boycott social media for 3 days, over this last bank holiday weekend.

The reason was clear: There’s lots of abuse and racism online, and they finally took a stand against it…They planned a 3 day boycott, ditching the platforms, in particular mentioning Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I’ll state the obvious: Yes, there’s abuse on social media, and it’s wrong. Of course we all want an end to abuse and any racist or abusive comments.

In fact, if you follow my blog, you’ll know I’ve spoke about this on numerous occasions. I’ve more or less left Twitter (check out my Twitter is toxic post from 2019) and use it completely differently than I did when I first signed up.

I still use it for reading every now and again, and sadly fall down the rabbit hole of clicking on a users posts and reading the comments every so often…Not good, more on that in a bit.

What Happened During The Boycott

During the boycott there were no social media posts basically from the whole of English football. Newcastle were playing, but there was no posts from them to see the team line-up, as they joined the blackout.

That was kind of strange, since that’s where I’ve got my news from for years now. I just waited for the match to start and got the line up the good old fashioned way!

There were no score updates, no sports (football) news, nothing. After the first day, I realised that this was actually really nice. After day 2, I didn’t even notice they had gone.

I asked myself the question: Do I really need football news and content constantly in my feed?

The Football Content On Social Media

When I heard about the boycott I decided to look into the big football accounts…The Premier League, Sky Sports various accounts, pundits, and a few more. For full disclosure, these are the accounts which I do follow.

The football content on social media, especially Twitter, is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s really good to have news and information which is right there. On the other, there’s so much spam, and then there’s the replies from others…Let’s start there.

The replies aka comments from others are a minefield, a miserable minefield. This is one of the toxic parts of the big football accounts, and it doesn’t look like they care or moderate these themselves.

This is what I see happening: Big football account posts a tweet, someone replies. Directly under that someone replies, but not to the original story, not a response to the first reply, but personal hate directed to the first reply.

It’s obvious the hater click their profile, find out which team they support, and throw some hate in their direction. It’s a merry-go-round of people abusing each other.

I checked several posts, and it happened so often. It’s not the worse kind of abuse ever, but it’s still toxic. Then there’s more piles of negativity, and generally speaking, it’s a pretty negative place.

This doesn’t happen in all communities, but it seems quiet frequent in the football space on Twitter.

Then there’s the constant re-tweeting of their own posts, or just posting the same story several times. I get it, it’s in-case someone missed the post, but when you haven’t, it’s annoying.

Have I mentioned the click-bait titles? Once again, this is annoying.

When the boycott happened, all of this obviously disappeared.

English Football & Media’s War On Social Media – Who Has Won?

To use a football reference, Social Media has won without kicking a ball. If you’re going to boycott something, I think you’ll lose when you tell the opposition how long you’re going to boycott for and then come running back.

What has happened since? Well nothing, those who’ve boycotted are back, and the world keeps on turning.

If you’re going to have an argument, or negotiation, there has to be a point where you are prepared to walk away. Football has (so far) shown it’s not willing to walk away, and has come back posting like nothing happened.

It begs the question that if social media is so bad, why don’t those calling for it leave?

In my opinion, they are using it to promote their brands, and are happy to do so, making their arguments kind of weak. If it were a racist or abusive person on a football show, they’d never be allowed back on.

Football highlights the problems of social media, but stays on the platforms, doesn’t change, and has negativity perpetuating in the comments section as I’ve mentioned above.

They could post and not allow comments, and therefore get rid of all the nasty and negative comments which are in the replies on platforms such as Twitter.

But it seems like they are using it in the same old way as they did before.

Football fans have had to use social media more than ever since stadiums and pubs have been closed. Since football is putting all the abuse squarely at the feet of the social media companies, It will be interesting to see how football reacts to offline negativity, once things fully open back up next season.

Where’s The Tech People? Where’s The Education?

I think football has got this wrong, badly wrong. Everyone is against racism and online abuse, including the social media companies themselves. Rather than working together and trying to fix the issue, it seems like social media has been thrown under the bus.

Blaming the social media companies is the easy answer, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right answer.

Throughout all of this there has been no talk of education, and nobody from the tech side of football has spoken out, only those who clearly don’t understand how the web works.

There’s been no talk of how to deal with online abuse, something we have all had at some point. Sadly we all have to deal with it, and I think that proper education about this has to be at the forefront of tacking this problem.

There’s been no talk on educating people who are misusing social media. The only thing which has been talked about is that abuse happens, and more needs to be done about it…

but what? Who should or can take action? What is the punishment? Nobody seems to know!

What Can I Do? What Will I Do? What Can You Do?

Well I will do what I have always done, which is to take some action. I’ll stop following the football related accounts (and others), and see what happens. In that respect, I mean, will I miss them, or will I just get on with life without them?

It could be a few days, it could be forever. It’s sad that it’s came to this, but I’ve found that the big football accounts/broadcasters aren’t really great to follow because of the negativity they perpetuate.

Of course they won’t notice or care, and neither will anyone else, but that’s kind of my point. You should use social media in the way that best suits you. If it’s too toxic, don’t be afraid to leave. Don’t be afraid to unfollow someone if it’s too negative.

You can stop following people, you can stop using any or all platforms, and you can use them in your own way. Your profile doesn’t have to be public, you can be anonymous, you don’t have to allow comments or replies.

Most of the social media platforms have tools to help you use them in the way which suits you best.

The point is that right now, you have control. You can be accountable for your own well being, and stop following negativity.

There’s tons of little communities on social media, communities within communities. Since I blog about men’s lifestyle and fashion I get a taste of a wide range of different communities. I can tell you that some are more negative than others, and some are pretty nice too.

The online football community on social media feels kind of toxic when you really stand back and look at it. It’s sad that something I’ve loved since a kid has such negativity surrounding it.

I already stopped the conversation and posting on Twitter years ago, and only use it to promote this blog and occasionally read things. I kind of wanted to go back, I miss some of the community and talking to people. But I then changed my mind when there were more waves of negativity and decided it wasn’t the time to go back.

Just to be clear, It was never the negativity on my own account, that was pretty minimal, and if there was a lot, I always knew I could simply disable comments. For me it was the reading of all the negativity which was bad (not to mention too time consuming!).

What’s next?

What I do know is that I’ll be taking another look at who I follow, and unfollow those football accounts. It’ll be a nice little experiment to see how I feel about my feed without them.


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Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger and T-shirt designer from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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