By now you’ve seen or heard about Richard Sherman’s emphatic post-game interview. You probably saw the clip. And if you didn’t, you at least saw the hilarious memes floating around. Dude really did sound like he was cutting a WWE promo. Hence the photo above. Pure comedy.
Anyway, I wasn’t offended or in any way bothered by what he said. As a
deteriorating former athlete that still dreams of being an athlete, I know what it’s like to be competitive. Better yet, I know what it’s like to competitively trash-talk — win, lose, or draw. So for me, no harm no foul. But the internet…
Boy oh boy did it come alive.
Between the time it took for me to make the greatest lamb burger in history and get back to my computer for the first bite, the conversation had shifted from fun jokes and memes to allegations of thuggery and racistness about Mr. Sherman (Whatever you imagine the tweets said is exactly what they said). I only know about these racist tweets because they were retweeted into my timeline with much abundance and fervor. And though I’m just as displeased with racism, redneck ignorance, and other unsavory things, I was perplexed. I’m still perplexed — particularly by some of the people re-sharing the hate, who are unanimously considered influencers. Here’s my issue:
When I saw the racist tweets retweeted, I’d click on the caucasian avatar to see who the original author was. When I looked at their follower count, they’d be well beneath 1,000. Some were in the double digits believe. People who probably figured no one was paying them any mind. Yet the people that were retweeting these folks into my timeline ranged from 1,800 to 23,000 followers. Their followers then retweeted and retweeted. Do you see the problem here? I did and it left me wondering:
Why are we amplifying ignorance? Why are we giving their words life?
Of course it could be argued that it’s about awareness and accountability; but honestly, I don’t care what some racist nobody is saying on their desolate timeline. I also don’t believe that amplifying and urging collective response to such non-influential people will end racism or produce any other other positive result than the high that many online activists seek. Even if we get them fired, they’ll most likely get another job. It comes with the privilege. So at the end of the day, giving these racists a voice doesn’t make the world a better place. In fact, I think it inspires more ignorance once other ignoramuses and trolls realize influencers are willing to give their voices bass.
I think Richard Sherman summed it up best with this response tweet:
A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of a sheep.
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 20, 2014
That was the smartest thing said within all this, and I think the lesson is clear. Let’s stop giving these racist light people weight. We got cubs to raise and meals to catch. I don’t know about you, but I need more to eat than a few gnats.
UPDATE: Richard Sherman wrote a response article that you can read here.