I’ve often thought the comments section of any editorial or social media post is an excellent mirror for the state of society as a whole. You have some good, some ugly, and some crazy. You see some reasoned arguments, some unreasonable ones, and some that scream here lies personal trauma; please medicate. But, that’s society.
The rapid rise and domination of technology – specifically social media – hasn’t given us humans time to catch up emotionally or intellectually. Many of us have turned into bullies, trolls, is the appropriate term. Or, maybe those people were so inclined already? They just needed the right vehicle for their malice?
I can’t say. But people do exhibit an extreme tendency to cut loose and behave badly online. People die from it, teenagers commit suicide, etc. We’ve all seen the stories. People develop eating disorders, low self-esteem, buy things they can’t afford, all manner of foolishness, all because social media is prompting them to behave in ways they might not otherwise.
Some of that’s good. Like, when a man behaves badly toward a woman and the court of public opinion forces him to issue an apology or gets him ousted from the seat of power, preventing him from abusing others. Or, when an organization or one of its representatives crosses the line and is forced to publicly make restitution. Of course, a forced mea culpa is often just lip service. It’s up to you to judge whether or not a forced apology, thus a potentially insincere one, has any value or not.
To me, social media, and the vitriolic comments it often generates, is just a magnifying glass for what’s already there. Only this glass is technicolor and has teleportation abilities because whatever it shows can be seen by millions around the world in seconds. Social media has basically heightened our ability to be annoying and to be annoyed, and it’s driven a lot of folks nuts. I fully expect a few handfuls of technology-specific medical conditions to come out in the next few years describing our online shenanigans like any other disease you’d find in the DSM5.
Social media has also given us a vehicle with which to fight. The oppressed, the little guy, anyone really, regardless of economic status, political affiliation or any other adjective, can use it to push back against their enemies, real or imagined. It has power. That power can and is often misused, but however it’s leveraged, it’s still there, and its accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
NBA vet Kevin Durant knows that. He’s used to stirring up drama, and to using social media to hit back when attacked. He’s kind of good at it too. Criticism over his recent move to the Warriors, exhortations to shut up when he fired back responses, it doesn’t seem to phase him.
“I should shut the [expletive] up, right?” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “Man, get out the way. I done did the work, I done showed you what I do. I know y’all don’t like me, but get out the way and let this [expletive] roll. I ain’t want no smoke with nobody. I ain’t want no problems with nobody. It’s everybody’s sentiments, like, ‘Yo, shut up, K.D.’ I’m not talking, I’m just being me. Everybody’s just acting crazy.
“I see guys voicing their opinions on social media, and I’ve always been part of social media, always interacting with fans of basketball and people that I know. I enjoy that [expletive]. All of this is part of the game for me. Of course, I’m on my Instagram, on Twitter, just like the rest of my peers. So what’s the problem if I got something to say? It’s just because I do it.”
What’s the problem, indeed? It’s one of the things that irks me the most about social media rants, when one party suggests the other party has no right to speak. If I keep reading, I’m invariably like, run that back? How does that work exactly? Why doesn’t he or she have a right to speak?
But rereading things doesn’t make them any less stupid. People think nothing of telling celebrities, people with power or who are in the public eye, hell, people with a strong opinion, to shut up. It’s like, in their midst of their online induced ire, that bit in the constitution just passed them by. I know it’s an old document, but come on. Even allowing for some modern-day interpretation, freedom of speech is thankfully still a thing in this country.
I support Durant’s decision to embrace that God and man-given power wholeheartedly. It’s why I don’t bash people online. Even the heathens I disagree with have a right to say what they want. I may not like what they say, but no matter how vile, hateful, perverse or silly it is, or how much I wish they would muzzle themselves, I will never deny people their right to speak.
In the aforementioned Yahoo article he said:
“I don’t mind a random person coming up to me in the Encore hotel who wants to talk [expletive] about ball. Whoever enjoys the game as much as me, I don’t mind. I’m down for that. When I’m on my phone in the middle and in between practices, of course, I’m going to respond. Now I’m just like, I don’t really care what people think about me, the names people call me. I know every time I say something, people are going to get upset at me. So I feel like I have all the power now. I can make so many people upset by just speaking my mind and speaking my truths, being transparent with everyone.
“It’ll get all these random people coming on national TV to project their feelings onto me. It’s pretty funny actually. I know what’s important. In between those lines, people aren’t going to step in between them. Really, how are the words of those people more valid than mine?
“… people just don’t like me at this point. It won’t stop me. It’ll fuel me to be better and better. I know you think I’m sensitive, but I’m just tired of holding it in.”
Sensitive. Bah! Half the time that’s gaslight speak for how dare you defend yourself and not take this verbal lashing like a good whipped dog. Durant signed a two-year, $61.5 million maximum deal with a player option for 2019-20. The Warriors are favorites for that coveted NBA championship, or whatever it’s called, and people are pissed and judge-y that he has strategically positioned himself to add to his legacy and his coffers.
They’re haters. I can’t believe I actually typed that word, but it sums things up nicely.
“I just want to take it a day at a time, and I don’t want to look at my future now,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “The [one-plus-one] was the perfect thing for me to do, to keep things open for me — financially and what I want to do. It’s just one of those things.”
Yes, sir. It is. Now, let the jealous peanuts in the gallery commence your whining with online impunity.