I love Twitter. I use it more than Netflix, text messaging, or anything else combined. In fact, I’d say I average 5+ great big belly laughs from #HockeyTwitter per day. Nowhere else in the world is providing me with this kind of entertainment. But the problem is, deep in its underbelly, #HockeyTwitter is a ticking time bomb which is ready to go off.
Leafs Twitter is a constant hotbed of conflict. I see people get out of line on a regular basis. To be honest, it is pretty funny. And I actually love it when some of them attack me. I happen to be a 3rd degree blackbelt in clap-backs, thank you very much. But what happens when things go too far? The worry I’ve had lately is that some of the more merciless bullying I’ve seen online will inevitably result in a murder or suicide. Think about it. You can only push people so far.
A person who will remain nameless, who has a history of instigating malicious attacks, was spreading false rumours about me online. It came to my attention via a writer from this site. The only motivation for this underhanded malarky was simply that when he tried to come at me one day, I dunked on him so hard that Vince Carter would blush. I was livid this morning when I found out! Turns out I had been falsely called a child predator in DMs by this trash, and god only knows how many times. This also happens to be the modus operandi of the scoundrel in question. I am not the first person that he has used this lowly tactic on. I’ll be honest: I immediately had two thoughts that went through my head. Should I fly there and beat the bricks off this guy? Or should I call the cops and charge him? Because when you have people spreading stuff like that about you, it is going to damage your reputation beyond repair. A lawsuit only makes sense if the person isn’t a 30 year old living at home on an allowance. It may have stopped me, but it didn’t stop Brian Burke.
Brian Burke had a no nonsense approach to when something similar happened to him. 18 social media accounts began spreading the rumour that he had impregnated sportscaster Hazel Mae in 2013. Burke took them to task and sued them. Although he failed to uncover the identity of all, he managed to discover who 7 of them were. I say good for him! Some people need to learn to differentiate between what is acceptable trash talk and what is crossing the line. No matter where you stand on Burke, you have to admire the move.
But what happens when its more than just a false rumour? What happens when these Twitter fights go too far and peoples lives are horrifically impacted? I’ve unfortunately witnessed countless people on Twitter be pushed within inches of losing their minds. Its a dark place at times. Would you really want it on your conscience if someone killed themselves from your tweets? I wouldn’t rule it out from being a possibility. In fact, I’d say its almost a certainty that it will happen sooner or later.
Last night I witnessed this incredibly stupid individual attacking a bunch of advanced statistic enthusiasts. He decided to go the homophobic route, resorting to insults such as “Go hang out with your bf, pal” or something incredibly similar (and stupid). The best part about this ignoramus is that he was using his real name, real photo, and had his job posted in his bio. So the group he was arguing with began tagging his employer in tweets, complaining to them. Here’s where I land on this: He was wrong in what he said, but you should probably not ruin his life because it may come back to haunt you. I’d probably rather not drop a dime on some old boomer and then have him blow my head off 2 weeks later. That’s just me.
Let me just paint a picture: What if that simpleton, who has 4 daughters, is living paycheque-to-paycheque supporting his family? Now what if you get him fired, and his family leaves him. Now I understand that he is an asshole, and has it coming. But let me take this even a step further: What if he has friends in the computer industry and can find you? I know this sounds rather far-fetched, but if these vindictive scenarios continue to play out, its just a matter of time before somebody retaliates. Its exactly like the infinite monkey theorem. If you put a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters for an infinite amount of time, eventually one of them will reproduce the works of Shakespeare. If people are constantly pushed to the brink, its only a matter of time until one of them snaps.
Violence arising from Hockey Twitter isn’t a question of “if”, but a matter of “when”. Its a crazy world out there. Be careful!