My technological collapse actually came at a very good time, because I was starting to really hate the internet anyway. Considering I own this blog, saying that feels a little like hypocritical self-loathing, but it's true. I really dislike the direction that the internet drives social interaction. The anonymity seems to make people think that there's no consequences attached to their words, and they write and behave in ways I sincerely hope they would not in face-to-face situations.
If you haven't read last week's Sports Illustrated piece A Light in the Darkness, about mental health issues and baseball, you should. I worked in the mental health field for what felt like forever, and it's an area of particular interest.
Anyway, in the article Ian Snell spoke really candidly about the fact that he seriously considered suicide a couple years ago. And I think the following excerpt should serve as an interesting reminder when we're tempted to make cruel personal attacks because of ultimately meaningless play on the field:
"...Worst of all, Snell could not forget what he kept hearing and reading in Pittsburgh: the boos from the stands and the cruel insults online going back to the previous season, when he went 7--12 with a 5.42 ERA. Once the Pirates' minor league pitcher of the year, Snell was now a figure of ridicule. You can find out where these guys live, he would think in a fury, even if they just have some secret name on the Internet.
The loss to the Brewers was a match flickering near all this tinder. Snell felt unbearably alone. Should I just do it? he thought again.
"It was a juggling back and forth, like the angel versus the demon," Snell says. "I felt like I was going to have a heart attack." So he turned the shower dial from hot to cold, trying to cool off, trying to douse a million burning questions: If a player messes up, why does everyone automatically think he's a bad person? Do parents even want me to say hi to their kids and give them high fives? Why am I always being singled out?..."
Now, I'm sure Snell would be the first one to say that the people insulting him were NOT the root cause of his issues, but I think it's worth keeping in mind that we have no idea what's going on in a player's life, what they're feeling and how random words on the internet might affect them at any given time.
I know I'm guilty of it sometimes, but I like to think that this blog is not really like that. I try not to be, anyway. But at the same time, I really have no interest in participating in a community, online or otherwise, where those sorts of negative, fatalistic and personally hurtful words and behaviors are the norm. And I get that feeling more and more about the Twins online world.
I guess I just don't understand the reasoning for it. When we lose, I do feel bad. But I feel bad because I (for the most part) love the team and the players and I want them to win. But we could lose all 162 games, and it would not affect my life one tiny bit. Same thing with winning...I would love to see this team win the World Series. They're a great team and they deserve that success and all the things that come with it. But I don't personally gain anything from it.
I have no personal stake in the team, aside from the fact that they provide me with a certain entertainment value, whether they win or lose.
Neither do you.
I really wish everyone would lighten up a little, I guess.
Now, the players and their families, the managers and coaches and the front office staff and the owners...they're a different story. Their jobs and livelihoods and professional futures are all affected by play on the field. So if they want to take a more live-and-die-with-every-pitch attitude about the game, that's up to them. But there's another line in that SI story that hits home: "Baseball is just a job."
I know I'm glad no one has a blog or Twitter account that's so reactionary about my job performance. I bet you are too.
So, that was a little soap-boxy. I'm sorry. I'm just feeling kind of ambiguous right now.