Is football banter on social media getting out of hand?
Social media, for over a decade now, has brought forth a new dimension to being football fans. Fans on social media are now engaged in all sorts of discussions and heated debates. This ultimately leads to fans poking fun and taking digs at their rival fans. But while doing all of this, should we remind ourselves that we are all here to have a good time and not to be hateful?
To outsiders, the football fan community on social media might seem like a group of people that simply likes football but to the fans it is much more than that. For them, it's a temporary escape from real life responsibilities and pressure, a medium to meet new people that share the same passion, a place where they feel heard.
Indeed, on social media, you can share your joy and excitement with many other people even when you are watching a game alone in your room. This is why it is crucial for fans in the community to create an environment full of love and respect instead of hate and toxicity, because consciously or otherwise, it ends up having an impact in their life.
The football community in Bangladesh is made up of tight-knit groups of people mainly in Facebook groups. The problems arise when people take things too seriously, when their opinions diverge, or when someone says or shares something with the intent of inciting anger. Football fans are very passionate, and when you say something that mocks their passion, rage ensues.
Furthermore, fan emotions are sometimes exploited. People make fun of a team or a player and even use vile language solely to incite anger among rival fans. This is especially noticeable among a group we could call the "fanboys".
Fanboys are a group of people who are obsessed with someone or something, in this case football players. For example, fanboys of player A mock player B, and fanboys of player B mock back, creating an endless cycle of two groups of fans mocking each other. While this may be some people's way of "bantering", the truth is that it creates a toxic environment among the fans.
While casual banter isn't a big deal, things can get out of hand when a group of fans orchestrates a targeted attack on someone whose opinion differs from theirs. There have been many instances of personal attacks in comments, people creating separate posts to target a specific person, and even threats. Some people appear in other people's message requests because they said something they didn't like. Many fans stop interacting and leave football groups after witnessing or experiencing these things. Football is supposed to bring fans together, but it sometimes feels like the fans are more divided than ever.
While it's not all doom and gloom in the football community, a little more respect amongst each other would really improve the situation a lot. After all, we all get together to celebrate the spirit of football, not just to banter each other.
Tamjidul Hoque likes spicy food and wants to watch a new anime now that his exams are finished. Give him anime suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org