Football & The City - Dec. 18th 2018
Football & The City
Editorial by J.S. Leatherbarrow
We live in Orwellian times.
When Eric Arthur Blair wrote 1984 - in 1948 - it was largely in response to the horrors perpetrated by totalitarian regimes of the last 25 years or so. Mostly centred around a “what if” communist super-state, he imagined what a world would be like if we weren’t even allowed to think freely.
Thankfully we aren’t quite there yet - not that you would know it sometimes.
The advent of social media has been positive in so many ways, but has also eroded a lot of free-thinking - especially on Twitter. It is the place where you know something to be a total truth - and yet can be told that you are wrong in no uncertain terms. All of the “imagine thinking it isn’t” posts or the words “facts only” as statements of having no room for other thoughts or alternative opinions.
There is so much negativity and casual abuse that it has become so much a part of daily life online that even the most confident of people begin to second-guess themselves - or have any form of opinion without fear of reprisal. This is not conducive to free-thinking & definitely not for healthy debate.
A lot of the media have cottoned onto the Goebbels’ propaganda technique in use of manipulation of fear itself. An early Facebook investor openly said that they quite literally used the Nazi propaganda minister as a reference point to keep people hooked. The press are exactly the same.
There is no bigger motivator in terms of driving traffic to a website than fear and anger. So all of the made-up, click-bait, transfer rumours are this. Every column inch filed about Raheem Sterling’s gun tattoo is this. “Your player might be leaving according to our sources” is going to generate more likes/retweets/comments through anger than for every, lovely, community outreach programme clubs might undertake.
All of this filters through to social media users. Everything is so instantaneous - so now - it makes it impossible to filter any form of fact from fiction.
It makes people angry. And this is really not healthy. Not even close to being healthy.
The collective football media should be ashamed of itself. You hear stories from news-rooms of older journalists having their deeper pieces sidelined for younger, marketing graduates’ work that gets more clicks. But the amount of traffic something generates does not - and never will - equate to quality of writing or thought.
Rinse & repeat.
We are in a vicious cycle of hatred and counter-hatred. And this has started to spill over into real life. You look at the viciousness of those snarling Chelsea fans towards Sterling and it becomes painfully obvious.
The media are so culpable in this - but we have the power to stop it.
Stop engaging with the hate. Cut their oxygen off. Don’t click on something that is obviously aimed purely at generating traffic. Be a little nicer to each other.
This way not only football - but the wider world - will become a little nicer to live in.
by J.S. Leatherbarrow - Editor