‘The Sewer of Social Media’
Featured Image: Mike Atherton
I swore I wouldn’t buy into this debate. However I’m motivated to do so following an excellent article by Mike Atherton in the London Times and ‘The Australian’.
‘Smith’s tears jolt for every father who has a son’.
Mike has also not been backward in coming forward; or where his sympathies lie. He is on the front foot in an ‘Odious stink of hypocrisy’. I don’t always agree with Mike Atherton. As with many other high profile media moguls there can be tsunamis of self-righteous indignation and nationalistic tub-thumping at times. Gideon Haig is my personal choice as a truly objective unsullied commentator.
However Mike Atherton included in his narrative on Steve Smith the following seminal vignette on the state of play with our ‘sporting’ social media:
“To see the sewer of social media rising in indignation, swaying this way and that, changing opinion on the wind of every unverified fact was to recognise something deeply unpleasant in human nature”.
It’s a very percipient piece; and I agree! I’m still a firm ‘rejectionist’ when it applies to the so-called pusillanimous communication cesspit so accurately identified by Mike Atherton. Both the protagonists and antagonists aren’t held accountable for their opinions or accusations. It’s all so cowardly, tasteless and feeble! I have my own descriptors of this sort of activity: ‘egregious otiose ordure’ and the ‘captious caviling of the carping curs’.
It’s also a reflection of our society. In a state of high dudgeon I eventually resigned my beloved Gold Membership of the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2015. I append my letter of resignation at the end of this submission. I have to say I was appalled by the attitude and behaviour of some in the members section of the SCG. They were identifiable as typical arriviste nouveaux parvenus of a certain genre, gender and generation. Maybe I’m just a ‘sanctimonious old flatulent’; as claimed by at least one of them? The actual verbatim accusation was much less polite! I identify it as declining standards in our society. Social ‘cricketing’ etiquette is a dead duck; excuse the unintended pun. No-one waits for the end of the over anymore as a courtesy while leaving a seat. Beer ‘swilling-and-spilling’ has become the ‘norm’.
If the purported egregious vile filth perpetrating as sanitised ‘sledging’ on the field is at least half true then I won’t be missing anything (see below)? For example I will not be supporting a worthy charity on the 3rd. day of the annual SCG Test as I have done in the past. The cause is noble; but the proponent is not!
Writing about yet another Wallaby defeat in ‘The Australian’ Monday 17th September 2017) Wayne Smith writes: “It’s the menacing anonymity of social media. Everyone can express an opinion but rarely is anyone held accountable for it”. Smith was writing about the egregious behaviour of a disgruntled Wallaby fan-post match following the loss to the Argentinian Pumas.
My very good friend trainer Pat Farrell from Muswellbrook has a much more basic and prosaic but equally profound philosophical purview: “Opinions are like a…..s; everyone’s got one”!
“The Tyranny of (Righteous) Opinion”
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at La Trobe University John Carroll wrote a very insightful article under the heading above in ‘The Australian’, Inquirer, Saturday 18 January 2020:
‘Proclaiming shallow virtue from the social media pulpit is the new religion’
Ms Leonie Gibbons
Manager – Member and Customer Services
Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust
Dear Ms Gibbons
It is with extreme reluctance and great regret that I seek to relinquish my Membership of the SCG. I was an original Foundation Gold Member: Gold Membership No. 400082; Certificate dated 30/09/1986 and signed by Pat Hills MP, Chairman of Trustees. I fondly retain my Certificate.
I live in the country and have attained the age of 73. Having been myopic for over 60 years I was recently diagnosed with Macular Degeneration and Cataracts in both eyes. I am anticipating a series of eye operations in 2016. The point is I am unable to see the (red) ball when at the SCG. Also I am both unwilling and unable to take part in the ‘Paddington Gift’ at the annual Test Match in order to secure the ‘best seats in the house’. The residue after c. 8:00am are just that: residual. I have tried booked seats and did not really enjoy the space. This year (2015) and the year before (2014) I was the single aged ‘victim’ in some unseemly and unworthy acrimonious disputation about the ‘reserved’ stickers on the best available single seat(s). This year (2015) I was accosted by no less than a cabal of five (5) much younger ‘members’ after having been escorted to a vacant seat by a young and charming female SCG steward earlier that morning. I placed my reserved sticker on the seat and left to enjoy breakfast in the Noble Stand. This seat was in the upstairs section of the Ladies Stand at the end of the front row in a window section. The ‘smart set’ outnumbered me by 5 to 1 with an especially noxious individual claiming he had taken a photograph with his smartphone. The young lady steward had by then been replaced by another steward leaving me with no plausible witness. I decided to take no action other than to let the obnoxious quintet know my true feelings in no uncertain but articulate manner. I was effectively ‘bullied’ out of it.
I accept the recent renovations at the SCG as being multi-functional and appropriate for the 21st Century. However I do not particularly like them. Could this be my Luddite age? Being a country-based member I am unable to access the extensive and comprehensive privileges and opportunities available to city based members. My decision is therefore not about affordability but is very much about value. The cost of both travel and accommodation in Sydney is a significant deterrent to us ‘bushies’. In my case this is ‘doable’ but equally questionable.
Please be apprised I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated my 29 continuous years of membership of the SCG. It has been an enormous privilege. The SCG is a very special place (and space) in the pantheon of world sport. I still have goose-bumps and a tingling feeling with pilo-erection of the hairs on the back of my neck whenever I step into the precinct. As a cricket tragic it is my ultimate vicarious playground.
I wish you well and every success as events unfold.
W. P. Howey