Dangerous Game

If the National Football Team progress pass the group stages in the World Cup, I can already see a reckoning coming. Those of us who accommodate the interests of others, without getting upset or judgemental, will find themselves watching others fight over passion. It is already beginning: the polite reminders that ‘not everybody is the same’ and ‘perhaps what I’m watching is more interesting than your mob mentality entertainment’ will undoubtedly escalate to mutes and petty spats, followed by arguments over what people can stick on their own timelines.

I’m going to support my National Side (as I have every four years) and that is not going to change. Those paying attention on my feed will grasp my love of football, despite the fact I don’t follow a team. I love listening to games on the radio, which is as much (normally) as can be coped with. Watching England on TV is roughly akin to torture. When the winning goal went in last night, I was in the bathroom. It was too stressful to be anywhere else.

What Twitter does best, and that has always been the case, is link people together whilst watching events. Whether this is a football game or a niche music band, it allows a shared, participative experience to take place when one is alone. You can feel part of a collective whole whilst stuck in the bathroom. It gives those of us who have issues with large groups or social situations where you can’t trust yourself the vital ability to experience that moment, and it to be valid whilst doing so.

On the flip-side, it makes everybody capable of not only having an opinion over that same experience, but the confidence to challenge validity of others’ participation. Of course, that opinion doesn’t need to be shared, but if you’ve spent all day wading through people’s terror at their own existence, being buffeted by horror over child internment camps and the subjugation of minorities wondering how they’ll survive the rest of the year… there are going to be flash-points.

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Eventually, you’re going to disagree with someone. How that works out isn’t all about you, either, but if the other person matters and you’re smart enough to grasp you could make things worse by pointing out more contention? You don’t do it. That’s the key, and that’s why last night I made a generic, non-specific point. The people I could have targeted should now know what to expect from me: it can be their choice as to how they react to this. I know certain people will mute and come back, some will leave, and for a couple this love of football will become a great way to pick a fight.

Except, I’m not playing that game any more. If you’d like a fair, adult discussion on football, or how ‘sportsball’ is a pejorative term, I’m utterly there. If I make disapproving noises over things I don’t like, then there is an acceptance that by doing so there will be consequences. If you wonder why I stopped talking about certain subjects, it has nothing to do with ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and everything around knowing which people will accommodate reasoned discussion, and who should be left well alone. As a wise computer once typed: the only way to win is not to play.

Sometimes, you make things better by doing nothing.