Stupidity at its finest is on display. University of Florida football coach Jim McElwain says that as a result of his team’s slow start (3-3 overall, 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference), players, assistant coaches, he, and their family members have received death threats.
Part of this is easy to diagnose and dismiss. Some of them are adolescents (in maturity, that is; their bodies could be anywhere from 15 to 50 years old), and they think it’s funny. These people have no ability whatsoever to carry the threats out.
But it is probable that there are some that do have the ability to carry the threats out. These are people whose entire existence is based upon the success of their favorite team.
Both scenarios are problematic for society. With regard to the second group, McElwain said, “It’s part of the business. You get it.” Really? I don’t think threats on your life should be “part of the business” of any job outside of active-duty military.
I believe the costs of pro and big-time college sports has played into things. Coaches and players are getting large sums of money. TV networks pay huge sums to broadcast the games. With streaming and on demand programming, live sports is one of the things networks and advertisers place top priority on, knowing it’s about the only programming where they know people are going to be watching as it happens. And of course, the teams themselves feel entitled to more and more taxpayer funding for the buildings the games are played in. As a result, costs have skyrocketed for the average fan. The average fan’s tax burden is increased to pay for the building (through higher taxes on restaurant visits), tickets to the games are out of control, concessions cost more than a white-tablecloth restaurant, TV bills are higher with every content provider, and the number of commercials is nearing the tipping point of getting more air time than the programming. Each of these factors taken individually increases a fan’s frustration and anger; add them all up and apply them repeatedly, and you have a very angry customer base. Angry people fly off the handle more often and with greater severity – hence the interactions with angry people.
The first group of people, who are just stuck in a state of immaturity that they seem to want to remain in, are of equal concern. In general, using an artificial identity like most of the profiles on social media, mean people can say outlandish things, true or false, that will mean no repercussions
for them. When people talk about “entitlement” among young people, I don’t think it’s as simple as kids who get everything they want. I think this is a factor too – some people have grown up in, or spent the majority of their lives with, the social media world which can be so far removed from the real world that people can inject their most far-fetched dreams into it. People can imagine they have super-powers, like hearing someone say something they disagree with, and can imagining themselves doing like the incredible hulk, doubling in size and pummeling that person who dared to disagree. To compensate, they respond into whatever platform is being used and say they are going to pummel that person for daring to disagree.
I see a number of people talking trash about social media and modern technology, about how it is ruining people’s attention span and ability to interact with other people. I think any tool at our disposal can be used for good or bad. What has me scratching my head is the addiction to mobile devices. And it’s not just Millennials either – it’s everyone that has become accustomed to having unlimited information in their hand. At lunchtime yesterday, I went to the bottom floor of the building to pick up catering for my managers. Another guy got on a couple of floors later. I would guess he was fairly near to me in age, early 40s probably. He had his face buried in his phone when the elevator opened. He had enough sense to look up and watch where he was going as he got on the elevator, but as soon as he settled in a waiting position, his head went back into his phone. I had left my phone on my desk, figuring whatever world-shaking news that would break in the 15 minutes I expected to be gone would still be there when I got back to my desk. Most people don’t seem to share this sentiment, preferring to never taking their eyes off the device for more than a few seconds. In my estimation, this addiction to the digital world has people being less able to distinguish that digital world from the real world, and it renders them able to make serious threats and live in the comfort of make-believe.
It would be wonderful if folks could learn to just take small breaks. I’m not a fan of these “STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR 40 DAYS!” challenges. That only makes it worse. But how about we set aside a few 5-minute blocks where the device is left in another room? Once you find out the Earth did not stop spinning on its axis while your phone was not in your hand, it will be easier to do so more often, and get you back to the point where the device is a tool you use in your life, rather than your entire life.
When it comes to sports teams, these people need to do like everyone else does – drink in celebration of your team’s win, and drink a little more to mourn your team’s loss. Then get over it and move on to the next day.