There’s been a bit of a discussion about toxic fandom on NBA Twitter lately, sparked by Terance Mann saying that “NBA Twitter and social media sucks”.
Toxic NBA Social Media Fandom
After another disappointing season ended thanks to untimely injuries last year, Clippers Twitter was a pretty dark place. But more than that, NBA Twitter was just a hate-filled, spiteful place where everyone’s goal seemed to be to bring down other teams’ fanbases (or sometimes even their own team’s fanbase). I was pretty sick of it and felt ready to call it quits.
Then, as fate would have it, a few months ago I made a vulgar joke reacting to a trade proposal made by Lucas—a trade proposal so disturbing, so damaging to the psyche, that to this day I physically cannot will my brain to remember the details—and POOF, my Twitter account was banned.
I took that opportunity to significantly cut back on my social media usage. And so after living under a rock this whole time, I just now learned that Marcus Morris Sr. had called the Clippers fanbase bums on Threads, by way of his apology at training camp.
But here’s the thing: I don’t think he’s actually the one at fault here.
Who’s to blame?
Sure, he probably shouldn’t have posted that. It was bad for his image and bad for his relationship with the fans. But what about all of the negative things the Clippers fanbase posted on social media that caused his outburst?
Is it fair that fans can feel free to say awful things about the players, but players can’t ever react without everyone clutching their pearls? Hell, it’s not just that fans just feel free to talk shit, they will actively fight with you if you try to make them feel even slightly bad about it. “Don’t tell me how to feel. If you don’t like it, don’t read my tweets.”
The fanbase can, and should, feel how they feel, right? Of course they can. If we started censoring any negative opinion on the internet, it would get pretty dystopian real fast. And it’s true, not logging in and not reading those tweets is a perfectly good option; one that I’ve taken advantage of lately.
The problem with social media
So if the answer isn’t to force fans to stop feeling things, then how do we solve the problem? Because there’s definitely still a problem here.
Terance Mann just said NBA Twitter and social media sucks; that it’s shit. Terance Mann said that. He’s one of the Clippers fanbase’s most beloved players. If Terance is disturbed by what he sees on Twitter, imagine how Marcus feels.
Here’s the thing about social media: Negativity is viral. These apps’ algorithms all target things that piss people off, because people aggressively share posts that make them angry, and that produces ad revenue. But algorithms aside, the loudest people on Twitter are always the haters. For every one person that wakes up and tweets, “I can’t believe how good Terance Mann has gotten” there are 10 people tweeting shit like “I can’t believe the stupid Flippers are holding out on the Harden trade over lame ass Terance Mann.” People just feel compelled to type out exactly why they’re so mad. It’s cathartic!
So it’s no wonder Terance, and probably most of the players in the league, can’t stand NBA Twitter. These guys with tons of fans who adore them and a tiny fraction that hate them will log into the app and at best they’ll see a 50-50 split of fans and haters.
The problem is social media itself. Social media and human nature.
Trying not to be a jackass
So can this problem of toxic social media sports fandom be fixed? Certainly not by preachy posts like this one. It would take a widespread shift in mindset. Fortunately for me, I think I’ve just had one.
There is indeed a key difference between me tweeting “get off the court” and being that one loud jackass at the game screaming “GET OFF THE COURT” for the entire 48 minutes—my tweet can be ignored. But that means the only difference between me and that jackass screaming into the stands is that I’m screaming into the void.
I think I’m going to chill this season.