Out of all the social media platforms, Twitter has always been my favourite, especially as a football fan. It’s the place to be to get the news first, be it on your club, Sheffield Wednesday in my case and probably to most of those reading this piece. But, over time, I have found myself using the platform for engagement purposes less and less. And I know this applies to others.
I had a Twitter account many years before becoming “active” on it. I primarily started using it to release Sheffield Wednesday news, and it was great. Naturally, and I think most people will tell you, there’s a buzz you get from breaking news and so on. Who doesn’t want their ego massaging from time to time?
But, what was even better than the above was the engagement. The Wednesday hashtag back then, maybe between 2015 and 2018, was a hive of activity. Fans who did and didn’t know each other in real life developed friendships thanks to Twitter, which then saw them meet up at games and so on. You’d see names you recognise, often in their hundreds, generally chatting on #SWFC.
I loved it. Yes, I was getting a bit of attention, but the way Twitter and the hashtag brought people together was brilliant, and it lives long in the memory. But fast forward to the present day and how things have changed. So many old faces have gone, and if they haven’t, they just choose to use the platform for browsing purposes.
Thanks to the good old Twitter days, I formed a number of friendships with Wednesday fans, and many of these are the ones who have stepped away from it all. And, in the main, they have all changed how they use the platform because they became fed up of the same old shite.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that when Wednesday are doing well, supporters are generally happier, which means the section of the fanbase who use social media sites such as Twitter will be too. It makes the hashtag a more enjoyable place to be.
And, let’s face it, this isn’t just a Wednesday thing. You’re going to get this with most clubs across the country. But, I’m Wednesday, and you’re probably Wednesday, too. And I have no doubt you will have seen the sort of thing that some will have become fed up of, especially more recently.
Wednesday doing well or not doing well shouldn’t allow us, as fans, not to be reyt with each other. And the same should apply to us being reyt with club staff members, players, ex-players, former staff, journalists and so on either. For the last near three years, life has changed. Restrictions have been placed on our lives, but we’re making it through together.
If anything, the global pandemic should have taught us that sticking with each other and being reyt towards each other is the way to go. I understand that when Wednesday aren’t doing well, there will naturally be a high level of negativity. But it’s becoming more common for people to use this as a reason to troll others, to bait them, to get personal and to overstep the mark.
I, like many others, am guilty of crossing the line once or twice. But, we’re seeing it happen more consistently as if this kind of thing is normal and acceptable. And it isn’t. Yes, it’s Twitter. But none of this would happen in real life, to people’s faces, so what makes it right for it to happen in this space?
Over the years, I’ve seen one of our best ever managers hounded on social media. Unfortunately, some people still feel it’s right to slag him and to label him this or that. Even now. And to what end? For the same reason, Lee Bullen, a proper servant to Sheffield Wednesday on and off the pitch, has been off Twitter for a while.
I’ve been privileged enough to know both of these guys, personally. They’re both good guys who will do anything they can to help others. They have both helped me immeasurably over the years, as they have countless others. But, then and now, things turned personal, and I don’t think that’s right personally.
I’ve lost count of how many times you see players sign for Wednesday, they’ll interact for a bit, and then you won’t hear anything from them again. Usually, it’s a case of everyone welcoming them, and then as soon as things go slightly wrong, a minority, a loud minority, turn, and their timeline will go dead.
Liam Palmer, a player who has given his all and more to Sheffield Wednesday, hasn’t been active on Twitter for years. It goes beyond whether you rate him as a player. He’s been subjected to hammer more times than I want to remember. There’s a cliché in football that if a player gives their all, fans will be happy with that. Well, from what I can see, that’s a load of bollocks.
When players interact more recently, the likes of Chey Dunkley and Josh Windass, you will often see how, after a while, they reduce how often they use the platform to engage. Our captain has only just returned to Twitter after years away. And I’d imagine it was because he got fed up with the shite directed at him, his teammates and the club.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all interacted with each other? I know for a fact that supporters love it when players engage. I do, myself. A football club is a lot happier when everyone is on the same page. I’ve been a big believer in everyone sticking together through thick and thin, through the bad times and the good.
Recently, I saw Lewis Wing post a picture with his son on Instagram. It’s a sorry state of affairs when you come to expect some of the comments that were left. And then you see supposed Wednesday fans looking for clout by posting screenshots of a comment and then being blocked by Lewis.
To me, that’s just not on. That’s not being reyt with each other as people. It’s trying to be a bit edgy on social media because it’s become the norm to get likes, retweets, virtual pats on the back, and attention, be it positive or negative, at the expense of others.
When Lewis signed at Wednesday, everyone was buzzing, especially after his performances for Rotherham last season. And, it’s fair to say that things haven’t worked out so far. But do people think he wants it to be this way? Shouldn’t we try to lift these guys in tough moments instead of beating them down? And shouldn’t we afford them the courtesy of being reyt with them, as people?
Darren Moore, the gaffer, everyone will tell you what a great man he is, how he’s respected within the game for being a good person. He’s another who has time for anyone and dedicates a lot of his spare time to helping others. But, as per usual, we’re seeing it turn personal against him.
I saw someone yesterday tweet @SWFC and call him a prick. Whether you rate him as a manager or not. Or agree with his decisions on and off the pitch. How can this kind of stuff be seen as acceptable? And again, in real life, it just wouldn’t happen.
But, even though it isn’t happening face to face, it doesn’t mean it won’t negatively impact others. For some, pointing out how many times Darren says “erm” maybe banter, it may be a bit of a laugh, and Darren may not care one bit if he’s aware of it. But it’s becoming an obsession for some. After every game, people are pointing it out. Again, I don’t think it’s reyt and feel it makes the collective look embarrassing.
I know I’m ranting, but I don’t write much, if at all, anymore. And I just want to get my feelings out there, whether people agree or disagree. But, speaking of writing, what you often find is that our local press guys are the ones who connect fans to the club.
Everyone reading this will know who they are – Dom, Alex, Joe, Alan, etc. All of them get stick at one point or another. And, you will often see them attempting to calm things. Joe, whose birthday it is when I’m writing this, decided he’s going to change how he uses Twitter for a bit. He’s not going to engage or give opinions.
Joe is another person I’ve known for a few years now through Twitter. People always suggested we need Wednesday fans covering the club. And in Joe, we have one. So, of course, he will express his feelings and so on. Isn’t that what we want? A journo who has something to say on their own club?
You’re not going to agree with everything a journalist says. But, it doesn’t mean you can’t be reyt with them. And, Joe and the other local press lads are dropping more exclusives than we have seen for a good while. But, again, isn’t that something we want?
Nobody connected to Wednesday should feel they can’t interact on Twitter or use the platform because of what could come their way. Because, while football is important to us all, we’re all people at the end of the day. And I just think, especially with how the world is, we should be reyt with each other.
It costs nowt, after all.