I’ve been beating this drum for a while, and will continue to do so until there’s a real change. We must stop rushing as fast as we can go to assume the worst in people.

Background

For those reading that have zero interest in the sports-ball, here’s the setup information you need. Every Sunday at 4:30 PM, there is one football game that is broadcast nationally. Most other games are broadcast in local areas or certain regions. This week, the game featured the Green Bay Packers, one of the most historic and nationally-followed teams. They hosted my guys, the Carolina Panthers.

Here is what happened

Early on, there was a play where the Packers QB threw to a wide receiver near the sideline. There was a good bit of contact between the receiver and the Panthers defender (contact that isn’t allowed). The officials called offensive pass interference against the Packers receiver. Great news for us Panthers fans. Packers fans, understandably, were livid. They thought there was no foul. Hall-Of-Fame QB Troy Aikman loudly criticized the call in the broadcast booth. I said on Twitter, “QB in the broadcast booth thinks there’s no OPI. Shocking.”

I was being sarcastic, simply saying that a quarterback is going to be naturally skeptical about any penalty called on an offensive player. It’s like saying a mouse is going to be happy if you leave cheese on the kitchen floor.

But one Packers fan – @brewers_2019 – took my sarcasm personally. “The only penalty there was defensive holding,” he tweeted. “You must be blind or stupid.”

An opportunity had presented itself. I responded, “How about ‘no, there was no penalty there” instead of insulting someone you don’t know?” This is my crusade, to get people to stop being so nasty on social media. 

He responded with a GIF of a crying baby. I replied by saying, “I’m just an advocate for civil discourse instead of name-calling. Sorry that offends you so…..” I then re-tweeted the thread with the lead of “Here’s an example of what social media doesn’t need – rushing to insult people you don’t know over 1 play in the 2nd quarter of an NFL game in November.”

It was one play that didn’t have any material effect on the game, which the Packers won 24-16. The game is just one of 16 games each team plays from September to January. Both the Packers and Panthers have winning records and are good candidates to make the playoffs. My point is, this guy’s rage at one call was overblown, and his rush to insult someone who had a different opinion was part of what is wrong with debate and discussion in 2019.

Other Examples

Talking online is tone-deaf, so it’s easy to see how he came to the conclusion that I am a crybaby. I’m not concerned about that. I didn’t lose any sleep over it last night. But it’s regrettable that this is really the norm. When disagreements come up, the first thing a lot of people do is insult other people. The knee-jerk reaction is to assume the absolute worst of the other person.

You see this in other areas. Why in the world are people killing each other over this Popeye’s chicken sandwich? There’s also viral video of a substitute teacher beating the tar out of a student. There’s almost no context (did the student start it by hitting the teacher, what was going on in the classroom leading up to it, what special needs might the student have, etc.). But there’s likely no justification for this teacher’s reaction; she was doing some serious beating in that video.

Shamefully, I have to confess being part of the problem. Earlier Sunday, I called the PA announcer for the New Orleans Saints the most obnoxious human being that ever walked the Earth.

What to do?

People, we have to do better. We have to stop assuming everyone else is out to get us, wants to steal from or hurt us, or is a lower life form. I should have said the Saints PA announcer’s methods were obnoxious, not the person.

I spent a good deal of time recently writing about ways to address hot-button or controversial subjects in a way that doesn’t lead to the fights and insult-fests we currently see. Whether you have controversial or everyday writing needs, contact us and let’s talk about what we can do to make your business even better with great writing.

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