Last Sunday, Palace got turned over 3-0 away to Brighton in football’s biggest and most important derby. Palace shipped two easy goals before half time and played badly in the second half. No one likes losing, especially to their biggest rivals, but the attention of the Palace online faithful has been caught, not by our defensive frailty, but by the foul-mouthed reaction by a small bunch on Twitter. Palace players received abuse. Co-chairman Steve Parish got called every name under the sun and reacted by banning one particularly charmless young gentleman from Selhurst Park. Said gentleman’s friends have taken up his cause, and a larger group have swung behind Parish and the Palace players.
Twitter divides opinion. David Cameron’s famous quote on the subject does sum it up for many. You can find all kinds of unkind, moronic content on there. As you can on Facebook, YouTube or down the pub. You can also find thoughtful, erudite, friendly people on there too, and you don’t have to look too hard for them. (Though, oddly, lazy journalists seem only to quote the moronic Tweeters when they’re looking to spice up some dull copy.)
But we all love being wound up, don’t we? And it isn’t only Twitter where this stuff happens. Jeremy Kyle and Richard Littlejohn make their livings out of it.
One of the less sweary tweets criticising Steve Parish read:
Singling out “risk” fans. Banning them. Mr Yes man to the old bill. Would rather the club go bust than have him in charge.
Really. Once you take out the swearing, you’re left with an angry, anti-establishment, I-want-everything-now-or-I-will-over-react nonsense. And that takes us to newspapers websites, with their comments facilities. I can imagine these guys in forty years’ time on the Telegraph boards, railing against the BBC, and women and the poor and people who sound a bit foreign. A world where there are still Marxists and easy pat answers for everything.
These people want attention, just as people have done throughout the ages. Remember John Lydon before he started hawking butter?
I’m not saying that Parish and co. should just grin and bear the abuse they get. But nor should they over-react. There’s only one thing wrong than people who want attention, and that’s what happens when they get it.