Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Twitter, Tom Izzo, and Double Stuf Oreos

I love snacking.  I'll snack all throughout the day, if I'm able.  The impulse strikes me, and off I'll go.  Because of this, I make sure to make great care about what food is around me:  apples perhaps, or carrots.  I'm smart enough to know that eating a package of Double Stuf Oreos is no good for me, sure... but I'll still partake if those oreos are hanging around within a reasonable distance.

To stay healthy, then, the key is to limit my options and remove the potential of temptation.  No temptation, no worries.

This is where I believe Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans are coming from -- "In wake of Tom Izzo's plea, Michigan State players saying no to Twitter."  In removing Twitter from their phones, the Spartans' basketball players are removing the potential of the temptation to jump on their phones and check out Twitter.  Considering how negative and vitriolic anonymous tweeters can be, a few moments checking one's notifications and interactions can be more damaging to a player's emotional health than an oreo is to a one's physical health.

Any condemnation of Twitter comes with nuance.  Twitter allows news organizations to share stories immediately.  It allows comedians a new forum to crack wise and grow their audience.  It allows athletes a way to connect to fans.  It allows instant analysis of sports.  And it also allows little emotional filtering along with the presence of power.  Anyone, sitting at home, can suddenly reach out and communicate -- or threaten.  Twitter does not cause racism or sexism, right?  It merely reveals that, though we believe ourselves to be living in a more advanced and accepting culture, there are still plenty of bigots and misogynists out there.

Isn't this the defense of the NRA and fellow gun advocates?  "Guns don't kill people.  People kill people."  Guns are mere instruments, used for good or evil or hunting or decoration by whomever owns them.  Twitter is an instrument:  It isn't racist or misogynist at its essence -- it's informative or racist or clever or sexist based upon whoever is posting.

“It doesn’t matter what you tweet. It’s what you read. That’s what I keep telling my guys. We can control what they tweet, to a certain extent. They’re going to get frustrated sometimes and probably say something stupid. But it’s what they read. If somebody’s writing stuff about your daughter when she’s in high school, I’ll bet you look at it a little differently. I’ve had grown men in my office in tears because of what’s being written. That’s what brings the frustration level."
React as you will.  Upon reflection, I understand what Tom Izzo and his Spartans are doing.  I suspect, too, that they will be far happier and emotionally healthier for it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's yogurt in my future.

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