When people ask me what Twitter is all about, I tell them it's a platform for people with a purpose. It's a way to share information, keep up to date on what has value in your world, and it's a great way to connect and exchange ideas. Personally, I use it for baseball. Rumors, news, quotes, new articles, commentary, discussion: everything industry related is right there.
The purpose for some people, however, is personal. They use it like they use a Facebook status. Some of these people will inevitably use Twitter without discipline, and because Twitter is transparent and allows us access to celebrities and actors and athletes, some of these undisciplined people will use it to take out their frustrations on athletes.
I'll give you a super classy example after the jump.
Check out this guy.
First, props to Matt Capps for being a good sport about it. Last night the guy went at Capps again, naturally. Regardless of the fact that the pitch Capps threw to Cody Ross was a good one. And that it wasn't Capps who couldn't score Jamey Carroll from third base with nobody out in the eighth inning.
The common argument here is that "Athletes put themselves in the public eye, so it's part of the territory." My issue with that is that these guys expose themselves to public ridicule already: on the field, in newspapers, online, on the radio, on television. Everyday their performance is scrutinized and people have absolutely no problem in tearing athletes down. And because of the nature of the beast, because of the community which sports have a tendency to foster, that's all totally understandable. Talking about baseball and the Twins and these players is what we do here on a daily basis.
Sending them a message on Twitter telling them that they're a bum is different. Why? Because it's personal. It's like telling them they suck in person, or sending them a text, or posting it on their Facebook wall, or finding out where they live and shouting an insult out the window of your car as they're out front pulling weeds. It's juvenile, classless, rude, and it's taking advantage of the level of access that Twitter provides. And for what?
Of course, that's part of the territory with internet, isn't it? Things that people would never dare to do in person they do online, because they're kept safe behind the protection of fiber-optic cables and a keyboard.
Just so I'm being clear, I'm not criticizing anyone who chooses to criticize a player's performance. I do it if I'm at the game or from the couch, I do it on this website. I do it on Twitter. Often. But sending a direct message to a player and insulting them? I'd like to think we're better than that.