In today’s world of cell phones and handheld devices, people walk around likes zombies as they stare into their hands. What are they staring at? Odds are they are staring at some type of social media and if they are a college football fan, they are probably reading a Twitter feed.
Twitter is a very helpful tool in many ways for college football fans, members of the media and even for players and coaches but for each positive there is also a negative. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Twitter as it relates to college football.
Pro: Instant access to news and insiders
Twitter gives you the option of following whoever you want on Twitter. You can follow news breakers (Bruce Feldman, Brett McMurphy), coaches (Les Miles, Brian Kelly), players (Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston), recruiting experts (individual writers from 247sports and Scout.com) and “insiders” (Phil Steele, Athlon). By being on Twitter, you can get breaking news as it happens and sometimes even get news or information straight from the source.
Con: Fake accounts
Of course, if you are watching your Twitter feed in hopes of being the first to receive breaking news you could also be duped by a fake account like Adarn Shefter (instead of Adam Shefter). Yes, there are people out there whose only goal it seems is to dupe people into re-tweeting fake accounts. I guess it’s the current form of prank calling people.
Con: Once one person has a story, everybody has the story or their take on the story
If you are the type of person who likes to follow a lot of writers and bloggers then once a big story breaks (or even a small one), you will be inundated with everybodys “hot sports take” on each story that happens. It’s nice to get a sampling of opinions but you don’t need a different take every five minutes.
Pro: Ability to bend Twitter to suit your needs
You can create lists to use in case your general Twitter feed gets clogged up. For example if you just want to know about Alabama Crimson Tide football then you can create a list of just people who write (or play for or are fans of) about the Tide. I happen to enjoy a good frosty beverage and the state I live in, Georgia, has a good up and coming craft beer scene so I added all of the local breweries into one list (I have 30 breweries added right now) and when I want to I can go to that list and check out what they are up to instead of having to try and sift through my feed to find information on them.
Since I’ve been on Twitter, I have found a lot of fans that follow the same team I root for and with Twitter it’s easy to see what they are up to and have conversations with them online.
One of the best uses of Twitter is if you can’t make it to the stadium for the game, you can still watch the game with fans of the same team by creating lists of people who are watching the same game and basically having a quasi chatroom of the game or just monitoring your mentions and responding back and forth.
Of course, unless you are using a DM (Direct Message), your conversations are also public so there’s a chance that a rival fan could chime in with some snark or put down. Just like in real life, you have to have tough skin on Twitter.
Pro: Keep you enemies close
As I mentioned earlier, you can create lists for anything and Twitter gives you the opportunity to follow your rivals closer than you ever had before. Have a big game coming up against Auburn or Florida State? You can follow their beat writers, bloggers, players and coaches and see what they are saying up until game time.
If there is a big game coming up you can create a list for all of the beat writers/bloggers for those two teams (ex: Clemson/Georgia) and you have created yourself a one-stop news hub.
On the flip side of “snarky rivals” there are also a lot of great fans from opposing teams that Twitter gives you the ability to meet and converse with.
Getting re-tweeted is a good feeling. Whether you’ve posted a blog that people enjoy, made a good point or just said something funny, people can show that they have enjoyed it by re-tweeting it to their followers. For blogs and writers that have big followings this is a huge benefit as it gets them instant traffic to their site that they might not otherwise see.
Con: Ridicule and Public Outrage
Of course, a re-tweet is not always because somebody liked what you wrote. Have you ever said something that as soon as it left your lips you wanted to grab it and eat your words? Of course you have. Once it gets re-tweeted it’s into the ether and can go viral very quickly. For 17, 18 and 19 year old players that are on Twitter this is something that they learn very quickly. Players can lose scholarships or receive disciplinary action based on what they post on social media so it’s important for them to really think about what they post before they post it because they are no longer in the hallway of their high school chatting with their friends, everybody is watching and not everybody has their best interests at heart.
Another issue with re-tweets is that once you say something funny and get re-tweeted, some people think that they always have to be “on” and that they are now a professional comedian. Not everybody is funny and not everything has to be a joke with somebody (or some other team) being the punch line. Stop trying to get over!
Twitter also doesn’t have a sarcasm detector or a dictionary that lays out exactly what you meant when you tweeted something. Sometimes people say things they shouldn’t and are taken to task but other times they get taken out of context and there is somebody waiting, who should probably be a professional hall monitor, with nothing better to do then jump all over them and take them to task (Patton Oswalt is great at calling people out on this).
Memes are fun to a certain extent.
After about 2 hours of non-stop memes coming through your Twitter feed about the same subject, you probably feel like you want to break something. Stop with all the meme madness!
Pro: More access
We’ve touched on this before but it’s important to circle back to it again. With Twitter and social media we are given more access to college football then we ever have been before. We get immediate news (good or bad), we get player reaction and comments and we get insider stuff that previously we would have to scour the depths of messages boards for.
Con: More access
More access also means that we have a sounding board and can basically reach out and touch people on Twitter. Did you not like what someone said? You can tweet right at them and give them a piece of your mind. This is good because it gives that person a dose of reality (if they need it) but it can also be bad because let’s be honest…people aren’t always right in what they say and how they say it (like sarcasm, there is no tone font on Twitter).
One of the most reprehensible aspects of Twitter is that it gives some people an avenue to say things to other people that they would never say in person. Death threats, ill wishes and just bad vibes overall. We have grown men tweeting at recruits to come play for their team and when the recruit picks another team or changes their mind (like 17 years olds tend to do) they bombard them with hate. A general rule for Twitter should be if you wouldn’t say something to someone in person, then don’t say it from behind a keyboard. Yet, common sense doesn’t always win out.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Twitter is not for everyone but it has the ability to be a lot of different things for different people depending on what your needs are.
Overall, Twitter is a great tool for college football. But, it’s also the Wild West of social media so be prepared for stray bullets coming at you from all directions.
The best use of Twitter is to make use of the list function and really cater your feeds to what you enjoy so you don’t become a Twitter zombie. Is it player reaction, is it breaking news, is it a specific team or conference, is it smaller blogs? Make multiple lists and utilize those to create your own personal college football Twitter. Don’t sit on Twitter all day. Read, get out of the house occasionally and talk to actual human beings and check your feeds every once in a while.
The best time for Twitter is on game day Saturday morning when everybody is buzzing with hope and the feeds are buzzing with hype. I will see you then but I will leave you with one piece of advice…don’t take social media too seriously.