I hate to use a sports analogy, because I swear I’m deeper than this, but for me this one is too easy to ignore.
Last Sunday I watched my favorite team — the Green Bay Packers — play the Chicago Bears with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line. The Bears quarterback is a surly, aloof, and ultra-talented man named Jay Cutler. Cutler was injured in the third quarter and didn’t return to the game.
In the testosterone world of pro football, unless the injury is so severe that a limb is severed or organs are exposed like in the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, the code of the league says you keep playing to show your teammates that you have the mental and physical toughness to thrive in the sport.
But as he sat on the bench with the interest level of a skateboarder at a Celine Dion concert, the Twitter world blew up. Seeing the typical meatball sports fan that takes the game too seriously go after Cutler is understandable because they don’t have the proper perspective to begin with.
But when peers of his post tweets stating, “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee… I played the whole season on one…”; and “If I’m on chicago team jay cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room! #FACT”, before any information has been released on the extent of the injury, this shows that speed and kneejerking is more important than waiting for information and being fair. (The next day the team announced that Cutler suffered a sprained MCL.) http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/story/2011/01/24/sp-cutler-sprained-mcl.html
This tells me that the national consciousness moves faster now, and in broader ways, but is very shallow. The football game was watched by 52 million people on TV. These people have a way to get their voices heard immediately. When Pirsig published Zen, how many other ways was there to get a voice heard publicly other than writing to the editor of the town newspaper? Twitter provides that filter, and you don’t need the time to sit at a desk with a piece of paper to transcribe your thoughts; they can be blurted out recklessly and emotionally.
And this is what I always try to guard against. When I tweet, I let my thought process through my mind before publishing it. I think it’s only fair to me and whoever reads it.