Jay Cutler and LeBron James made it clear: Social media crashes a tsunami of bile onto the jocks
On Howard Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources,” Jason Whitlock announced a new era. In the columnist’s opinion, social media flash mobs are tearing athlete reputations asunder in a manner that scoffs at precedent. Considering what happened to Jay Cutler and LeBron James, I’m buying this theory. For many unfortunate jocks, Twitter converts hatred into a billowing cultural meme.
Though a digital flash mob obviously lacks the menace of a real-life, pitchfork-wielding crowd, it’s still unhealthy for us to collectively foment rage — I think. Our relationship to sports figures is ugly enough: We live through these unknowable phantasms, only to hate them when they let us down. Do we really need another medium for voicing this hatred? Do we really need to amplify that hatred?
So, much as I love Twitter, much as Shaq loves Twitter, the tweet-medium seems awful for athletes, on the balance. Moments that would wither in newspaper or radio snippets, now expand to an emotional, angry frenzy that can define and bully sports figures in the worst ways. Jay Cutler’s knee was really shredded, but the Twitter flash mob likely succeeded in permanently tagging a “quitter” reputation to a man suffering highly human pain.
Twitter isn’t going away any time soon, so rather than wax Luddite, I’d propose something even more radical: Pundits and fans should understand that athletes are, indeed, people. Their fame, their money, none of it is a justification for joining the public invective mob. Shouting from the bleachers was a harmless pastime — the digital bilious strain spreads like an airborne virus. And if social media allows us a greater voice, the cultural norm should trend toward being, well, sociable to these people who — I know this is shocking — actually exist in real life.
More Related Stories
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to participate in peace talks
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- 2 more arrested in London attacks
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11