Finally, Zac Neel says what must be said. Twitter is cool, fun, exciting, but we have to use commons sense and some judgement. Small difference between humor and becoming a twitter troll. Zac provides some great examples. Social media is doing so many great things for the sport. I covered each and every heat and round for ten days through a combination of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Readers seem to love it, as we have developed this program over the past decade.
Zac Neel, sorry for spelling your name wrong. Thanks again for getting twitter’s place and reminding us of the small line between humor and being a twitter troll.
The Olympics has a heckling problem – its name is Twitter
by Zac Neel
For many of the 11,000 athletes competing in the Rio Games, their mere presence is the result of hundreds upon thousands of hours of training and hard work. Apart from a select few, that moment of competition may be the single highlight of a young athlete’s career. The stage is set, the lights are on, and heartbreak looms eerily near the finish line if they are unsuccessful in medaling.
Heartbreak, and Twitter Trolls.
Since the inception of Twitter in 2006, it has slowly grown into the social media powerhouse that it is today. It is a place where journalists, such as myself, can promote work, and news outlets can quickly distribute information. Unfortunately, it is also a place where mediocre comedians can badger respectable humans who, typically, are much more successful than they are.
It’s not all bad – some of the jokes or “memes” (noun: a humorous image, video, piece of text that is copied – often with slight variations – and spread rapidly by Internet users) are pretty funny. That’s not to say that some can’t be hurtful, however.
Even during the Olympics, where the hardest-working, most dedicated athletes come to compete, there is still an issue of disrespect? Unfortunately, yes. When it comes to Twitter, nobody is safe.
Allow me to pontificate. For the most part, the mockery is typically harmless – a slight poke in the ribs or pinch on the arm in attempts to conjure up a quick laugh. I’ll admit, I have often taken part in the gimmicks. Recently, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, has been subjected to the internet’s ridicule. Before a race last week, one of NBC’s cameras caught him in “pre-race mode,” and let’s just say, the internet ran with it.
— Dane Higbee (@DANETRAIN05) August 10, 2016
Hell, some moron even deemed Phelps’ expression worthy of some ink.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 12, 2016
Are you starting to understand Twitter’s bewildering obsession with celebrities and the moments that make them seem more human? No? Let’s keep going.
For more light-hearted fun, look no further than Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet. His relatively easy win in the 100m final gave birth to meme gold such as this:
— Grant Goldberg (@grantgoldberg) August 15, 2016
— Moe Killington (@sporker_) August 15, 2016
And depending on where you stand on the Ryan Lochte scandal (I find it outlandishly entertaining), this:
When you fake a story about getting robbed at gunpoint and leave your boys in Brazil to deal with it pic.twitter.com/xomExMgwLN
— dan haren (@ithrow88) August 18, 2016
Almost as if some of Bolt’s brilliance was contagious, Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse even exploded into an internet star overnight, solely due to being in the right place at the right time:
When you’ve been doing everything right and you ask her out and she still says no pic.twitter.com/jMNzR8psrb
— McDadi (@j_adoosey) August 15, 2016
— Darrell (@SpiderDarrell) August 18, 2016
I even took a crack at this one:
When you catch her trying to unlock your phone pic.twitter.com/1tWGn4OlCI
— Zac Neel (@zachary_neel4) August 19, 2016
Now, I don’t mean to take away from De Grasse’s ability. I’ve interviewed him at the NCAA Championships, and he has a pleasant persona coupled with remarkable talent. In this instance, though, it was his charisma, not skill, that put his name on the map.
However, I have seen a couple of instances in the past week where Twitter users took it too far. I am not sure how the athletes reacted to some of the material, or if they are even aware of its existence, but I know how I would react if I were the subject of ridicule.
Take Jeffrey Julmis for example. A Haitian sprinter who reached the final in the 100 meter hurdles on Monday, Julmis was confident and prepared to take his shot at medaling. Things went south, and Twitter will never let him forget it.
— BallerAlert (@balleralert) August 17, 2016
Hi I’m Jeffrey Julmis welcome to Jackass pic.twitter.com/vS65z0UdZQ
— Dan (@ehdannyboy) August 17, 2016
Now, props to NBC for tweeting out the video of Julmis getting up and finishing the race after taking a tumble, but the damage was already done.
— natalie bohemian (@nataliebohemian) August 17, 2016
The point is, as users of social media, we need to monitor our online-existence and re-adjust if we start to veer into the realm of Twitter Trolls. That is not to say that retweeting a meme or posting a vine is wrong, just know when it crosses the line of decency.
These athletes have sacrificed everything to reach the pinnacle of their sports. This summer, we are lucky enough to look on and celebrate as they try to fulfill their Olympic dreams, something very special in its own right. Just make sure you aren’t the one to kick them if they fall.