Social media is like poison – Arsenal players should just stay off it…

Footballers should stop complaining about social media by ThirdManJW

So-called “verbal abuse” can affect anyone, it’s not just confined to the realm of football or Arsenal players, but one can understand its unique relationship within the sport, and its fans. For well over a hundred years footballers will have been called every name under the sun from fans in the stands, with the vast majority of it being justified, and acceptable. It comes with the territory when you’re a public figure, especially in a sport where fans have just paid to see a decent performance/effort. Of course, there has always been a minority faction of unacceptable racist, and vile personal abuse, but that has almost been eradicated on match days what with harsher punishments (life bans from attending games), and because of the general social construct.

We keep hearing the term “abuse” a lot in regards to this topic, which is not correct. It’s verbal abuse! The distinction between the two must be made, as there is a big difference. I mention this because in today’s PC culture, many conflate criticism/discourse with abuse/hate speech. E.g. Any public conversation about the obvious concerns of men competing in womans sports, is immediately shut down under the basis of trans-phobia. Which is ridiculous! If a celebrity says they are a republican, they get hit with terms like: Nazi, or white supremacist (even if they are black). People go to the absolute extreme when name calling these days, and it’s having a detrimental effect on how we think, speak, and how big tech, and the media are reshaping society. People are now becoming scared of saying or hearing ANY critical thought.

I have seen this even on here on JustArsenal. Ozil has been criticized a lot, and rightly so given his performances, although too much over the last year as he wasn’t even playing, and I noticed that some fans genuinely believed Ozil was being “abused”. Criticism is NOT abuse. It is that simple! Of course, we have seen a small number of comments that really are vile, or racist, across all forms of social media, and the internet at large, but they do not represent the majority.

Now that we have established that criticism is not the same as verbal abuse, and we have an understanding of the PC/snowflake culture we reside in, one can easily disregard, interpret and/or cope with such words. The next thing that we all need to realize is that despite how nice you are, how much charity work you do, etc, one also needs to accept that trolls will exist on social media. These types of people are only interested in winding you up, and saying horrific things about/to you, and your family.

These problems have existed on social media for long enough now that an adult should know what they are getting themselves into when joining social media. At local/national level, public figures are already open enough as it is to ridicule, criticism, praise, etc, without the social media platforms that just amplify the numbers by taking you international.

Not only is an individual more open to verbal abuse than ever before, it’s also easier to be verbally abused. In many cases, abusers will have anonymity. Hiding behind a fake account, thus allowing them to say whatever they want.

So, as much as I agree that it’s horrible reading horrific comments about you, or your family, I have little sympathy for adult footballers who engage with social media. If you can’t handle criticism from the stands, why on earth would you go on social media? Even if you need it in your life, why read the comments? This so-called abuse is easily solved by avoiding these platforms, and avoiding the comments. The counter-argument would be, why should someone be forced off social media by these trolls? What if that person enjoys the interaction with the majority of their fans, so why should they be the one being punished by leaving?

Obviously, we want people punished for crimes, but unfortunately, sometimes the bad guys win, especially on something as vast as the internet/social media. That’s life! Although a tiny minority have been prosecuted for racism, and more have been suspended/de-platformed, policing the entirety of the internet/social media is an impossible task! And these are just words on a screen. Maybe hurtful to some, but nothing compared to being verbally abused face-to-face.

Whilst I have little sympathy for an adult using social media, it is extremely important that children from a very young age are educated in the dangers of using these platforms. There have been many cases of children self-harming, and even suicide, from online bullying. That is horrible for anyone at any age, but more so for children, who won’t have the mental capacity to fully deal with these issues. Not only is social media education vital, I would go as far as to say that we should be teaching children that you do not even need social media. We have enough narcissists as it is already!

If an adult footballer is going to insist on using social media, then can they please stop complaining about it, because they should know what it’s about by now! It’s like drinking too much alcohol, then blaming the drinks industry when your liver packs up. Social media, like smoking, like processed food, like alcohol, is just poison to your body. You only have yourself to blame if you are going participate in such things.


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  1. McLovin says:

    Off topic, I,posted this in an older piece but wanted to get your opinion.

    Angelino of RB Leipzig:

    “They both (Pep and Julian Nagelsmann) like to play with the ball, get the ball quickly, there is one thing that is a big difference – one gave me the confidence and played me and the other didn’t. You need courage and Julian had it,” Angeliño said in a media round table on Wednesday.

    “(Not playing) It killed me. Confidence is everything and I was judged after two pre-season matches and then did not get another chance,” the Spaniard said. “From Pep, I learned a lot in training, but hardly got to play.”

    Does this ring a bell?

    “William Saliba has lifted the lid on his difficult start to life at Arsenal, claiming manager Mikel Arteta “judged me on two-and-a-half matches”.

    We all know Arteta learned from Pep. This sounds awfully too familiar..? Angelino is actually now one of the best LB’s in Bundesliga

    1. gotanidea says:

      There’s nothing wrong with Guardiola’s approach. It might sound ruthless, but his system is proven to be one of the best and the most consistent in football

      Ibrahimovic was also one of the best strikers in the world, but he wasn’t suited to Guardiola’s system. Another example, De Bruyne and Salah were failed wingers in Mourinho’s Chelsea team, but we all know how good they are in other teams

      1. McLovin says:

        There’s actually everything wrong about Peps approach, especially if MA is emulating same approach here. Emphasis on:

        “They both (Pep and Julian Nagelsmann) like to play with the ball, get the ball quickly, there is one thing that is a big difference – one gave me the confidence and played me and the other didn’t”

        Giving player confidence and not judging player too early is essential for man management. See the difference between Nagelsmann, who has done wonders so far. We can’t afford a manager who judges promising players hastily because we don’t have the resources Pep’s got.

        1. gotanidea says:

          There’s no guarantee Nagelsmann’s method would work for a wealthy team that consists of superstars, but Guardiola has proven that he could manage a bunch of divas. Arsenal surely knew about the approach they’d get from Guardiola’s disciple, before hiring Arteta

    2. S says:

      Doesn’t this kind of prove that guardiola can only manage finished products though?
      Put him in charge of a championship club without a budget and he’ll fail

      1. McLovin says:

        If MA is emulating Pep, we are in big trouble. Pep is a chequebook manager who does well with the unlimited resources he has.

        We don’t have unlimited resources. We have a strong academy by all standards. ESR had to wait until we were in a losing spiral before he got his chance. In hindsight, to me it looks likes starting ESR was something MA forcefully had to do to stop losing, and not because MA saw something special in him.

  2. gotanidea says:

    Agreed, but some people simply can’t live without social media. I hope Xhaka has forgiven his abusers and will be willing to extend his contract

  3. Grandad says:

    One of the best structured ,relevant articles I have read on JA for some time.An excellent piece TMJW .I go along with virtually every aspect of your thinking and in particular the importance of child protection.Indeed I feel the time has come for the dark art of trolling to be outlawed and if necessary to become a criminal offence.

  4. jon fox says:

    I warmly applaud and appreciate this superb and comprehensive article that cuts to the heart of the matter. I found it immensely reassurring that other mature and worldly wise fans know the huge difference between legitimate criticism of a player and personal abuse directed to the player, often on FB, Twitter etc.

    IF – which I do not accept and never will – fans are not allowed to pen legitimate criticism of players, even in forceful language, eg about the lack of morals of such as Ozil, who in my firm opinion has cheated the club for most of his time here, by his clear laziness, then fan sites are neutered and have no role to play.

    IF -which I will never accept – strong but legit criticism is wrongly regarded as “hate speech”, even by some who ought to know better, then free speech is under grave threat and with it the loss of precious freedom that has been hard won over centuries by such as the Suffragettes and many millions of fine humans who have contributed in diverse ways to the evolvement of ordinary people in those precious countries which are not run by tyrants.

    That means NOT in places like China, North Korea, UAE and a few other tyrannical countries in the African continent and elsewhere in Asia too.
    We in the free world have taken these precious freedoms for granted and failed to see the constant danger to us all in the tyranny of the wrong headed woke brigade who seek to rebrand mere free speech which may offend but which is not abuse, into what they lazily call “abuse” “hate or “hating”.
    Time and again I see, and then despair, at the danger, of which some are completely unaware, when younger folk wrongly misdescribe free opinion as “hating ” so and so.

    That is immature, wrong, dangerous and harmful! I urge all those who have the power and intention to think properly, NOT to use the word”hate”, when what is written is merely an opinion with which they personally disagree.

    In a precious and hard won free sociey we MUST be allowed the freedom to disagree and to give opinions and to receive harsh opinions from others , whethe or not we like them. That is what democracy entails.

    Please, those of you who are unthinking, do NOT misuse the word “hate” again, when all that is present is someone elses free speech opinion.

    1. Highbury Hero says:

      You called Mesut a thief and lazy how can you call that criticism? You know you can insult people if that’s what make you happy but to try (without success) justifying that behaviour is despicable if I may say so.

      The club made a mistake giving Mesut that contract but they went on and do the same to Aubameyang and Willian. 🤷

      1. jon fox says:

        Because he thieved off our club by his refusal to try earning his money, as he was so obviously long term lazy! You disagree, as is your right. I disagree with you as is also my right. It is called free difference of opinions and is NOT abuse, NOR is it hate speech.


        1. Highbury Hero says:

          Arteta is reportedly currently making £5 millions a year to manage Arsenal. I will use him as an example because you like him and think he is doing a great job.

          By using your flawed logic is it right then to call him a thief? Because he has robbed the club of top 6 finish, he has robbed club of European football, he has robbed fans of their happiness on a weekly basis (fans whose money is paying for his salary).

          Is it right to call him lazy because after 1 year and a season and a half he still seem to have no clue on how to manage a team?

          Based on results under him (currently at the bottom half of the table and looking likely to end there) closer to relegation than to top 4, isn’t he stealing that 5 Millions this year?

  5. ozziegunner says:

    If you want to see the “true face” of social media platforms like Facebook, you should look at the behaviour of Facebook towards the Australian Government, due to its impending legislation to have platforms pay for news content. Hopefully they can hold their nerve, because other countries are watching; however these companies are very powerful.
    Good article TMJW, but you should also mention that people who support the Democrats, Labour or other social democratic parties get called snow flakes, “liberals” and down right communists.
    One thing that real worries me are people posting photographs of their children and these falling into the hands of paedophiles.
    Best advice is to give social media a wide berth and communicate in other ways.

  6. Highbury Hero says:

    Great article Thirdman I applaud you. I completely agree that there should be nl sympathy for a grown up in social media. There are a lot of celebrities (I hate that word) who have gone off social media after seeing the worst of it.

    No one should force them off social media and they can stay on it and keep their accounts private for friends and family. If they want to have millions of followers so that they can monetize on it or massage their ego it is only right that they should accept the consequence of having a public account.

  7. jon fox says:

    I wish to congratulate Admin Pat and TMJW for allowing and penning(respectively) one of the best and most profound articles that I can remember on this site.

    The difference between a deeply important article such as this and a number of the nothing articles about Ozil and other nothing articles about clearly fake transfer rumours, shows the two extremes of this site, both at its best and at its worst.

    I constantly hope that we get more articles of this depth and even brilliance in content. It is the main reason , though not the only one, that I remain on this site, even with all its frustrations.

  8. Goonster says:

    I am glad Xhaka told some of our fans to “FCK OFF”.
    The guy has never been a trouble maker, he is limited and it’s not his fault that the likes of Wenger, Emery, Ljumberg, Arteta etc all seem to rate him.

    I never understood the animosity towards him, people going as far as attacking his family, wishing cancer upon his new born baby daughter on social media. But then acted like entitled snowflakes when he reciprocated the same treatment toward them.

  9. guy says:

    Great article – well done TMJW AND Pat – I am so pleased to see it posted. Many of you know my stance on this – perhaps not on what constitutes abuse but at least on the new censorship.
    My own view is that anything threatening or wishing mental or physical harm on others constitutes unacceptible abuse insofar that legal action by the state should be considered. I would allow the same action for any abuse given purely on the grounds of race/sexual orientation etc. But not for verbal abuse given to somebody who is merely by coincidence of another race. Criticism can be abusive and nasty but should not be legally state-punishable merely because it hurts somebody’s feelings. Civil courts exist for such things.
    Free speech must survive. Debate must continue. It is sadly ironic that it is liberals amongst us who, by promoting one aspect of an equal society, are destroying the cornerstone of a free society – the right to express opinion.

  10. Shine says:

    Social media can be both a good and bad thing. If u use if for personal life and friends then it’s pretty much OK.
    But if u open for the world n use it for lots of followers then u r bound to face issues you either lie it anot.
    It happens everywhere regardless of industries.
    Just that u have to know how to face it and most times ignore it.

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