Social media, for the most part has been a groundbreaking invention that has allowed people across the world to interact from the comfort of their own homes.
We are able to communicate with friends, family and anyone else through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and before their declines, myspace and Messenger.
But in the eyes of some, the use of social media has allowed those to express feelings and thoughts in a negative manner. And in the world of sport, there’s usually someone or something on the receiving end of this ‘abuse’.
Quite frankly, it’s downright disgusting.
To hide behind a keyboard and post things you wouldn’t say to or someone if they were standing right in front of you is a true act of cowardice. And deservedly, it’s universally condemned.
But it’s easy to take this perspective when you’re fortunate enough to not be the subject of online abuse and vitriol.
For those who play sport at a professional level and for clubs with significant fan bases, it can be quite scary to read things that people around the world say about you.
With the stakes they play for being so high, any level of failure is met with a knee-jerk reaction by those online. And with such easy access to the aforementioned platforms, it’s hard for professional athletes to see the bright side.
Some athletes do see the bright side, knowing that what’s said online rarely translates to what’s said in real life. A great example of this is through the popular TV segment, Mean Tweets.
Hosted by late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, high profile people are made to read derogatory tweets directed at them, with most of them expressing laughter at the stupidity of what’s said.
Here’s a couple of examples of the segment.
But then there’s the other side of the equation, those who do get affected by what people say.
Often, these comments left online can be quite upsetting and sometimes, those on the receiving end don’t take it well. And despite there being those who can cop the abuse, some have different perspectives.
These comments, whether they’re made online or from the stands, are dragging the game of soccer down and it’s a real shame.
Back in 2017, Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren played a poor game against Tottenham Hotspur in a 4-1 loss. Following the game, Lovren’s family members were threatened purely based on his performance.
You could be the most soulless person on this planet and still find that kind of comment disgraceful.
Briefly on Tottenham, left-back Danny Rose was diagnosed with depression in 2018. He seems to have put it behind him after becoming a first team regular for Tottenham this season.
Granted, Rose has admitted that injuries played a part in his depression during a BBC video that went online this year (can be found below in full), but it goes to show something.
We may see them as these worldwide superstars who can do anything. But in reality, they’re just like us.
This is brilliant pic.twitter.com/N3t03dwG3Q
— Greg James (@gregjames) May 19, 2019
Some may think that these comments don’t have any affect, but they do.
Mental health is one of the biggest problems surrounding soccer players and athletes around the globe because people think that they can say anything and get away with it.
They say these things for numerous reasons. Their performances on the field, as we know. It can be down to their appearance and personality (see above video for Peter Crouch). But there’s one other factor.
The fact that most of these players are millionaires.
Footballers get paid lots of money and there is a select group that think because of this, they should never be sad in their lives. Purely because they’re a bit wealthier than most folk.
To rebut these opinions, there is only one thing that needs to be said.
Money can’t buy happiness.
So before you send that tweet, Facebook post or whatever it is, put yourselves in their shoes.
How would you feel seeing someone say that about you? Because in life, you should only treat people the way you want to be treated.
And it’s time that we stamp the abuse out, whether it’s racism, sexism or general oppression. Because whatever it is, it has no place in sport or in life. Anywhere.