You’re going to read this anyway? Don’t leave abusive comments then, because I did warn you.
Last week I posted a blog of ‘Spurs Cockney Rhyming Slang’, which was a fairly gentle mickey-take making fun of Spurs players, managers and ex-managers. The day after I posted another Spurs-related topic – how the boundaries of London have changed over the years, to show that Tottenham only officially became part of London in 1965, so technically Arsenal were in North London first. Due to the fact that NewsNow seem to put anything with ‘Spurs’ in the headline in the feeds of their Spurs-loving followers, both these posts got a lot of Spurs fans viewing them. This in turn led to quite a few comments from Spurs fans, some of whom were very annoyed – VERY annoyed – I was making fun of their beloved club.
To be fair, only a small minority of blog readers left comments, not all of the comments were abusive, and a few obviously took it as a joke – good for them. A couple even came up with some Arsenal Rhyming Slang that was at least as good as my Spurs efforts, but the majority who bothered to comment were abusive. I deleted most of the ones that just called me 4-letter words. The (vaguely) interesting thing (to me) is that before I had a blog I had written dozens and dozens of much stronger mickey-taking stuff about Spurs for about the last 12 years, and don’t recall getting a single piece of abuse from a single Spurs fan. But then I was writing in The Gooner fanzine and not on the internet. The Gooner, as the title suggests, is rarely read by Spurs fans.
The main reason I started a blog was in fact to post some of the stuff I’d written for The Gooner over the years, and the reason I called it AngryOfIslington is because I’ve written a column in The Gooner called Anger Management for about five years, where basically I rant about (usually) Arsenal-related stuff that annoys me. But I look at many of my columns and think, ‘I won’t bother putting that on the blog, I’ll get too much abuse.’ In one sense you can easily say things online that you wouldn’t want to say in print, but in another sense the net is where you can more easily attract a bad reaction.
Many internet users seem to be one of two basic personas: swearing, trolling, abusive idiots, or being morally outraged at the swearing, trolling abusive idiots. Obviously if I talk about Spurs in a negative light I tend to attract the trolls. I don’t really mind being called names. I’d be more concerned if someone consistently dismantled my arguments and proved I was talking rubbish, but luckily that doesn’t happen too often. But name-calling can get out of hand. There was the idiot arrested for racist tweets about Fabrice Muamba when he suffered a heart attack, and then at the same time as I was posting my Spurs-related fun another idiot was arrested and cautioned for his tweets to and about Tom Daley, including death threats.
Personally I was quite glad those particular two were arrested as I like to see nasty small-minded people get their comeuppance now and again, but rather bizarrely the idiot who abused Tom Daley then got death threats himself – could the people doing that not see that they were then as bad as he was? I guess not – they probably see themselves as heroic vigilantes patrolling the unruly web and keeping the real abusers in order.
From my own selfish point of view, do I deserve to be called names and insulted just because I make fun of a football team? Am I issuing death threats? No. Am I going directly after individuals and sending them abuse by Twitter or any other means? No. Am I even swearing at anyone and calling them names. Well, I might refer to Alan Sugar as a ‘silly bugger’, or say that Glenn Hoddle speaks twaddle, but I don’t even rant, rave or swear at those who leave abuse in my blog comments. If I bother responding, I try to use logic – which is usually easy enough, considering the standard of abuse I get. In my piece on London boundaries I was even careful to say that only some Spurs fans are resentful of Arsenal. None of that made any difference of course, I got the same reaction as if I just posted a one line blog saying ‘F*** off Spurs!’
What do I conclude from this? Nothing much. No startling insights. There are many idiots around. By definition half of all people are of lower than average intelligence, though maybe quite a lot of them don’t think they’re in that group. People like the pseudo-anonymity of the internet and think they can get away with aggression and insulting behaviour. Sometimes they go too far and the morally outraged rise up in protest. Ho hum.
I’m sure someone will read this and leave an insulting comment just for a laugh. But if you’re thinking of doing it, don’t bother really. Save your time.