Twitter is a funny place. It’s that corner of social media that is perpetually on fire, for human thought is this fire’s fuel, and when millions of brilliant minds come together to concoct a potion then, well, the result can only be a lavalike quagmire of dopamine and vitriol.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. After all, the communities Twitter brews facilitate the most crucial aspect of the human experience: a sense of belongingness. At the end of the day, why wouldn’t you want an echo chamber where you could scream alongside people who take too seriously the same things that you do?
I’m being facetious. The Kingdom of the Blue Bird reflects the society in housing people of all sorts, coming from all walks of life. Quite often, however, it manages to bring the worst out of even the best of us.
In this article, I have tried to pen my thoughts on why everyone—regardless of their overall temperament and comportment—give in to Twitter’s incessant encouragement of hyperreactive engagement, sticking strictly to the platform’s footballing community fondly called Football Twitter (FT).
“Social media’s ability to give you a quick dopamine fix with very little effort is what makes it so highly addictive,” I learnt this from a YouTube video once while mindlessly scrolling through the video-sharing app for said dopamine fix.
The human brain is a remarkable organ. It is also very gullible. When it comes to keeping count of the information being consumed, our brain does not employ intricate mathematics. Whether it’s a book, a long-form article or a tweet, it counts as one unit, the salient difference being the amount of time our brain gets to process the amount of information present in a unit, which naturally increases with its length. Also, the longer the unit, the longer it takes for us to convince ourselves to get around to consuming it.
This is, of course, a broad-stroke generalisation and, hence, isn’t always true. It does, however, give us an idea as to how the uber-convenience of social media comes into play: the ease with which it can feed us several units of content—however dense it may be with substantial information if at all—in very little time is what primes us to return to scrolling through our apps over and over and over again.
Case in point, instead of reading one of several well-written 1000-word articles that I have bookmarked for later, I keep scrolling through my Twitter timeline, seamlessly consuming more than a thousand words without a second thought. (I know this says more about me than anything else, but we move.)
The observation that Twitter leaves you with very little time to consume and form a coherent reaction to information off a tweet is key here. On average, one scroll of your timeline can feed you roughly five tweets — that’s five units of content your brain has subliminally counted, consumed and formed a response for. Of course, we don’t usually respond to every single tweet, but every single tweet leaves an impression on us, with our cumulative reaction remaining inside of us right alongside our own feelings on the matter(s) as long as possible.
Until the dam breaks.
Regardless of one’s degree of pugnacity, we all have a breaking point, beyond which we snap, with the way the reaction manifests itself differing from person to person. Also, as is human, we all have our likes and dislikes, which reflects in almost everything we do. Achieving 100% objectivity is nigh on impossible, but acknowledging one’s bias helps keep it in check, which is helpful when you’re trying to make coherent two-sided arguments.
Football Twitter, like any other community, is a vibrant place, housing people performing all sorts of roles: players, coaches, critics, analysts, banter brigadiers, trolls, and everyone else. There are no quiet days on Twitter, although the density of information flooding the platform may vary on a day-to-day basis.
An average day on football twitter goes like this: someone/thing gets slammed from one side of the community, which is followed by praise for said person/thing from the other side, which invokes further fury on the other side and that invites more rebuttal from the other side until everyone gets tired and the debate dies down. For a while.
Almost every FT contributor is a football fan (why else would you put yourself through this?), and as a football fan, we all share this experience: after a match, there is an outcry on the losing team’s side, with the winning team’s side trying to put more salt on the losing side’s wounds by giving it the big one, which only enrages the losing side even more. If you are, like me, a Manchester United fan, then you know that there is no calm water along these shores.
It is human nature to hone in more on what went wrong instead of what went right, and naturally, everyone has an opinion. Opinions galore is what follows. Something has gone wrong, so there must be a reason for it. Someone thinks they have an answer, while someone else just wants to let out a scream. Everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else and by the looks of it, all hell must be about to break loose any time now.
It is in these high-intense moments that Twitter’s low-time-high-consumption mechanisms tend to break even the calmest of souls. In these situations, even the usually composed, highly-revered people can be found wanting to punch a hole through a wall.
“Okay, so I guess what you’re saying is that the football twitter community is toxic. Duh. What’s your point?”
To call Twitter/Football Twitter toxic is silly unless, of course, you’re invoking a transferred epithet. It is, after all, a human creation, and human interaction is what makes it one giant ball of eternal fire.
I do not know how much of what I have written so far makes sense to you. This is, however, how I try to make sense of Twitter, and I’ve found that understanding how it takes us to the emotional edge can help us in taking a step back and looking after ourselves when it all gets a bit too much.
It is only human to be wanting to be part of a community, something bigger than yourself. But at the end of the day, we owe it to ourselves to take care of our own health, and it is to that end that I hope this piece helps you.
Written by Anshuman Joshi | Feature Image via Sportskeeda
El Arte Del Futbol is an official content creator for OneFootball. Find more Original features, Player profiles, Manager Profiles and Tactical Analysis’ on www.elartedf.com. If you are reading this on our website, we’d like to thank you for your continuous support! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated with all the latest content.