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Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Power and the Shame of Twitter

Twitter has become an invaluable tool for communicating football news in a way that Facebook or even texts never could. The way we can swap ideas or news via this medium to people we may not know but share a common interest isn’t exactly new but the manner we use it now is amazingly useful. I have used it more than enough times to form the beginning kernel of an idea for an article.

In a way that forums were and still are, this instant communication has meant you also come into contact with a greater variety of people, many are fine, and we simply just want to communicate about Forest. Some are idiots, who are either hell-bent on ruining it, or are that ignorant and obnoxious they don’t realise they are doing it.

For 10 years we have had a forum on the Soccer 24-7 page, fairly constantly active in that time, it has been one of the more well used of the club forums on the site. I’d say that there is a strong correlation between Twitters expansion and the golden age of forums passing. People just want that instant gratification now and not wait for another poster to comment.

This is of course progress and cannot be sniffed at. It is merely the way the world is going. However, like the forum had its trolls, so now to does Twitter. I always regarded it as being a higher brow version of Facebook. I think everyone has seen that most discussion on Facebook quickly descends into a slanging match. Unfortunately as things get more popular those same people have found Twitter.

The huge added advantage of Twitter is the presence of journalists and players, and the ability to directly communicate with them. This is a wonderful way of having contact with your customers, your fans, and your people. In theory, in a wonderful world this works beautifully.

However as I said the dark underbelly of attention seeking idiots or the plan obnoxious are out in force like never before. It started becoming more and more apparent in late 2010ish. When Forest fans complaining about lack of communication saw the chairman Nigel Doughty join Twitter. What better way could there be to get answers on matters from the horse’s mouth so to speak. He could share with us his frustrations his happiness, what he was thinking. Wonderful. But then there are those who see this is as a way to hurl insults or abuse in a way no one with any kind of self respect would do face to face, so why is it behind the relative anonymity of a computer screen feel the need to do so? In short we all know what happened. It forced Nigel Doughty to stop using his Twitter account. And when things got worse people then started rounding on his son. Laughable at best, horrendous in reality.

Lately has seen a new twist. Over the past 6 months many fans have started taking frustrations directly with journalists reporting on Forest. Sometimes seemingly blaming them for the decline in Forests fortunes. I’m not exactly sure what planet these people live on at times. Anyway, so when said journalists report what they know, they get abuse from people who basically don’t like what they are seeing. Is this what we have to come to? Keyboard warriors ranting and raving at someone not telling him what he wants to hear.

And now this whole crux of where we are at now. The takeover. The only reason people start to believe anything is down to Twitter. Tweets from the supposed family of Fawaz al Hawsawi (do we really know if any of these accounts are legit) Pictures tweeted of his daughter in a t shirt that says Forest on it. So what? This could be an elaborate game of smoke and mirrors here. People are so desperate to believe that they start blindly believing any rumour posted and see truth where it might be.

Let me give you an example of how this can be. In a previous guise of this site, when we tried to be a news site, rather than a Views site, we noticed a rival site completely ripping us off. Everything we posted they would copy. So we made something up. We said we were signing Nathan Blake, and sure enough the other site copied us. Job done. Lo and behold the rumour took off, forgetting that the wider world would be watching it resulted in Forest having to release a statement saying they were not interested in signing him. The moral of this story? People believe anything if it is presented in a way that it looks like fact or official. So when the ball started rolling on this takeover being yesterday (the 21st) everyone just started blindly believing. Yes there has been a number of saner ones amongst us preaching caution, but the majority have simple believed it MUST be true. But that’s the problem with the Internet, it might not be, and often isn’t.

We have become so accustomed to instant news and gossip on Twitter and the like that when we don’t get it we get disillusioned. People will be checking for news, and that’s when attention seekers come in, and start boasting they know this and that’s happening. I’ve had people tweet me saying they saw so and so at the ground or the training ground, I guess in the hope that I’d take said news as gospel with little or no grounds and write it up. That or retweet it. People are that desperate for followers they will try anything like that. Embellishing the truth and creating lies merely to give the impression of new secret information they have.

Last week saw another evolution. Insulting players, Joel Lynch specifically. This is a player whose future is up in the air, and yet you have Muppets tweeting at him to basically sign up or go elsewhere. Yeah because a players whose future is in the balance is a brilliant target for your vitriol. To be fair to Lynch he basically presented the guys head on a platter by saying if he doesn’t sign his deal it will be the other guys fault. Cue abuse to the abuser. But then how much love is Matt Derbyshire going to have for a club when the fans everyday just tweet abuse at him. Same with just about any players on there. It hardly endears him to the club to try harder.

And now you get some sites hell bent on taking that news and passing it off as their own, or moulding it into their own view with no real substance, again purely for hits.It means hits come before integrity, and that's now somewhere you want to be.

I won’t change anything with this article. People will do as they have been doing. For me it’s more a cathartic process of getting this off my chest and hopefully maybe getting through to one or two people that Twitter rumours may be false. Abuse tweets to people Forest related are maybe not always the best idea. And finally, maybe, just maybe, there is a wider world out there, and everything doesn’t necessarily appear on Twitter first.

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