2019 will be a different year for me on Twitter.
No more insulting David Haugh’s inability to produce an interesting paragraph. No more attacking Pro Football Focus’ misinformed player grades. No more fights with Greg Gabriel, especially after he’s engaged his evening Tito’s and tonic.
Twitter brings out the worst instincts in me as a writer and person. And I’m just gonna go back to ten years ago when only booze did that.
With that states, here are my five rules for social media, sports department.
(1) Don’t Tweet during game action.
Games are emotional events. And social media is no place to be when your emotions are revvin’ to seven. You’ll argue about things that don’t necessitate argument. You’ll allow a run call on third-and-one in the first quarter to enrage you, not understanding it’s setting up a beautifully-designed, play-action screen in the fourth, two hours later. You’ll end up making ridiculous (and wrong) proclamations that become featured by @OldTakesExposed or some feed like that.
In-game commentary is commentary without perspective. Commentary without perspective is often, if not exclusively, useless.
(2) Admit what you don’t know…
…because you don’t know a lot.
I have watched all-but-one Chicago Bears game since 2001.
I watch more than 100 NFL games a season. Way more. Not a point of pride. Just a fact.
A lot of games I watch multiple times. Often with All-22 tape. Sometimes in slow motion. Because I wake up at 4 AM.
And I have no idea what constitutes good guard play. Sure, I can see it when Kyle Long pancakes a guy or pulls outside and makes an important block downfield. But down-for-down I don’t know the assignments and am completely incapable of evaluating overall performance. That doesn’t just go for guards. It goes for safeties too. And a lot of linebacker stuff. And interior DL. And a majority of folks on specials.
I don’t know. And you don’t either. Admitting that fact is comforting.
(3) Don’t tag players, unless it’s something pleasant.
What do you think you achieve by telling a player he stinks? How empty must your existence be to think you, a marine biologist or importer/exporter or city planner, deserve to be heard by a professional athlete?
And don’t give me the old “I pay their salaries” bullshit. You also pay the salaries of corrections officers and your urologist. And you’re not qualified to comment on their performance either. (Oh and unless you run Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC or Fox Television Networks you really don’t pay anybody’s salary.)
(4) Try to understand the media marketplace.
When a blogger or journalist shares an article they’ve written, they don’t intend for the entirety of the piece to be reflected in that headline. They want you to click the link. Not because they’re raging egotists and not because they’re playing a trick on you. They want you to click the link because they have editors who count the number clicks they get and their livelihoods depend on it. (Hell, the only reason I’ve stayed active on Twitter is because Noah gave me concrete numbers proving the percentage of traffic driven to this site from that intellectual cesspool.)
So click the link. Read the story. And if you have issues with the piece, share them with the author. But if you don’t click the link, shut up.
(5) Be a human being.
When you, as a human being, encounter others, also human beings, I’m willing to bet you usually don’t insult them instantly. Usually you say hello or shake hands. So on Twitter, find the equivalent. And do it.