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A Very Special Episode

28 August 2012

Another year, another upcoming season, another influx of exciting young prospects. But comrades, there’s Something We Need To Talk About before the season gets underway in a little over a month.

Things are very different for our young Bulldogs these days. They face more challenges as players and as representatives of their schools than players did even a few years ago, and so we are forced to discuss this very sensitive and explosive topic.


Yes, Twitter, the micro-blogging platform to where all those meaningless, attention-whoring Facebook statuses have migrated. Many tUMD athletes, fans, alumni and staff are on Twitter (as am I! But I am warning you, it is RWD uncensored. Yes, that’s right. I tweet words I would never blog [And yes I know this is a terrible You Tube clip].) Twitter is neat in a lot of ways. It has allowed me to connect with more readers, it also allows me to comment on games live and give sporadic score updates, and even to interact with players (on a limited scale, as I am a creepy creeper).

Twitter comes with a lot of problems, however.

1. Twitter is unfiltered.
Underage players tweet about drinking. Players who have reached the age of majority use slurs, racial or otherwise. Most guys use discretion and speak vaguely about drinking, avoid posting pictures of themselves or their teammates with alcohol, and don’t use offensive words. (Note that I don’t consider regular swearing actually offensive.) However, if even a few do, it reflects poorly on both the player and the team/institution they represent. This ties in to the second problem, which is…

2. Twitter lets people tweet, sometimes directly to players, all those rage-filled tirades that used to be drowned out by crowd noise or shouted at our televisions.
This doesn’t happen so much on the college level, although sometimes it does. My advice to anyone who receives such tweets is, laugh it off. Ignore it. Respond neutrally, if you must, with a little “Thanks, buddy!” or something like that. Don’t get anyone else involved. The other day I witnessed a Twins player whining about the haters, re-tweeting what the haters were saying, and then responding to the haters in such a way everyone could see (I’m not going to bother explaining this further for non-tweeters, because it’s sort of a long and boring discussion.) This a. gives morons attention, b. escalates the situation either by inviting additional comments from the original person, or by involving additional parties and c. alienates fans who don’t want to see players stooping to that level and/or clogging their feeds with stupid morons. So, fans, don’t be stupid, and players, ignore the stupid people.

This is literally the lowest form of interaction between a player and a fan. First of all, it is not a real interaction at all. All a player does is hit a button and then everyone else sees this dumb person’s tweet, which could range from “CAN I GET A RETWEET FOR YOUR BIGGEST FAN EVER IN THE WHOLE WILD WORLD!!!!12!11ones!!!! ZOMG!!!” to one fan who, I swear to you, asked “Can I get a re-tweet for my uncle who committed suicide, he was a big Twins fan!” People also ask for re-tweets for various charity cases without offering any sort of solution. I am not sure that re-tweets cure cancer/multiple sclerosis/29 stab wounds in the back. It is also lazy on the part of the player. I successfully convinced a Vikings player (I won’t name names but he did kick a Packer in the groin last year) that a better way to interact with fans asking for retweets would be a reply to the fan individually, because it is personal and it also doesn’t clog up the Twitter feeds of the other 99.9999999999% of the person’s followers.

Hm, I broke form there a little bit, probably because that last one really grinds my gears.

Most schools and teams have social media policies in place (sadly, policies that do not include a punitive ban on re-tweets, yet), but they should probably just consider printing out this blog post and posting it in the locker room. I assume tUMD already does that with every blog I write, but just in case, it’s what I advise.

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