I re-learned a lesson today: Some people can get really worked up about something they deem offensive on social media, and many of them LOVE getting the opportunity to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude.
This morning, Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider died after a two-year battle with cancer. This was sad news, as not only was he a good sports owner, he was also a generous philanthropist who meant a great deal to the city of Philadelphia.
While reading some of the reactions to his passing, I came across this tweet from a Caps fan:
Savage move by the Flyers to try to get sympathy right before the playoffs. Not buying it.
— Nate (@BarstoolNate) April 11, 2016
Inappropriate? A little. Funny? It certainly made me chuckle.
To me, the joke wasn’t that Ed Snider died. If the guy had made an actual joke about cancer, I would have found it in bad taste as well. The joke, as I saw it, was the suggestion that since sports teams often go to great lengths to gain advantages, maybe the Flyers took that mindset to an absurd extreme. It also mocks the “now they have inspiration to win” narrative that often takes hold in cases like these. I think back to the reaction that Redskins fans had after Sean Taylor died and the Redskins won their next game. “They won by 21 points! 21 was Taylor’s number! This means something!”
I defended the joke, pointing out that it was sarcasm, and that people should lighten up. Twitter did not care for that one bit. I was told that someone died of cancer, and that was never appropriate to joke about. (Even though that’s not really what the joke was about.)
The exchanges degenerated into name calling, and a bunch of people showed up to tell me what a jerk I was. (Although “jerk” wasn’t the word they used.) Those people definitely did not like it when I suggested that maybe they shouldn’t feel so self-righteous because people die every day, and the only time they apparently care is when it’s a billionaire sports owner.
I soon realized that I was actually making them feel better. Because of me, people got to puff out their chests and be proud of themselves because they SAID THE RIGHT THING and TOOK A MORAL STAND. They got to point out that the guy who made the joke – and apparently me for defending it – WERE INAPPROPRIATE AND WRONG!
This is how I feel about social media: It isn’t real life. Most people you interact with aren’t really your “friends.” If you want sympathy, and to hear opinions that match your own, there are much better places to go. If you want to get outraged because a stranger isn’t as upset as you about a celebrity dying, then that’s your right. But I could suggest many better places to direct that passion.
With nothing else to say, I’ll leave you with a tribute to Ed Snider:
This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was I and the topic was “Inappropriateness”