Every now and again the world of technology coughs up something that will change the lives of millions, altering the way in which we engage as a society. The latest in terms of these innovations is the social media tool of Twitter which, since its launch in 2006, has perforated society, gaining the interest of many.
One of the attractive aspects of Twitter is the ability to follow famous figures, who openly tweet about their lives, building an image beyond that we see in magazines and on the television screen. This medium has been adopted my numerous stars of the footballing world over the past few years, enticing the interest of fans across the globe, keen to ‘get to know’ their idols. Although this appears, on the surface, to be a great idea, certain players to make use of the tool have become figures of annoyance, rather than respect.
Achieving a ‘retweet’ or reply from a performer whom you frequently watch can be an exciting and almost surreal experience, bridging the gap between normality and the parallel world of professional football. But, this novelty soon wears off, with their ramblings eventually becoming irritating or a little mundane. Players such as Joey Barton and Jack Wilshere have become what’s known as ‘serial tweeters’ offering their vast followings a looking glass into their lives, whether that be related to the game or not. Barton in particular has become a figure of ridicule for his use of the site, with vast arrays of literary references and controversial statements being made on an almost daily basis. It can be amusing to see various players arguing with others, particularly public figures, but the whole trend of Twitter among footballers is actually having a negative impact on the game.
Mobile phone ‘apps’ have made the act of tweeting an effortless task, with the ability to have your say on the move. So long as your smartphone has the required level of signal, a tweet can be posted often leading to cases of tweet first, think later’. Clubs are attempting to crack down on their players using the site, with some openly criticising decisions made by the manager or the actions of rival players during the match, bringing unwanted attention, but this is ultimately hard to control. It’s sometimes nice to read a player’s immediate reaction to incidents, but if this response shifts blame, it can be frustrating to fans and lose said player a little credibility.
The influence of Twitter is unlikely to disappear for quite some time, with control over players use of the site difficult to maintain. Mexican top-tier outfit Jaguares recently made use of the medium, with players Twitter names, aswell as the accounts of sponsors, being printed on to the shirts, showing a progressive marketing technique. If this catches on the influence of the site may become further tied to the game, and eventually woven into the fabric. It can be refreshing to read the thoughts of star performers, yet as the saying goes, never meet your heroes, and Twitter’s unique interaction ability is slowly proving this to be true.
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