does what we say on social media matter or does the problem lie with those who focus on negative posts?

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I had the idea for this post, at least the first half of the title, back in January during the Australian Open when Tennys Sandgren’s dream run was overshadowed by his appalling Twitter profile on which he had liked a bunch of alt-right racist tweets. Then I wrote a post because I wanted to go back on something I said in a blog post previously, and in it touched on this new thing we have of dragging up public figure’s old offensive tweets and holding them accountable for it, so I thought I’d mentioned the subject already and put this post to one side.

Then, in the last couple days, another Twitter dramzzz kicked off in the world of the ATP tour – this time centred around Fernando Verdasco, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios. And it got me thinking not only about this original blog post idea I’d had but also how the media chose to focus on Nick tweeting one petty lil thing over his recent involvement with the MSD school tennis team after all they’d been through. So is what we say on social media really going to make an impact, or is it the stuff people choose to focus on and ignore that shapes our public perception?

Quick background info on this Kygs Kokk FerVer situ. On Monday Kokkinakis and Verdasco played a match against each other in the Miami Open, during which Verdasco complained about someone in the crowd clapping or shouting in between his serves, someone who turned out to be Thanasi’s dad. They then had a heated discussion on their benches during the changeover, where Verdasco was adamant he wasn’t talking about Kokk’s dad when every single thing he said and every description of the culprit he gave matched his dad. When Thanasi told him that was his dad, Verdasco apologised and said he didn’t know, then after the match when he spoke to Sky Sports he reiterated that he didn’t realise that was Thanasi’s dad and he never would’ve said anything had he known. During this match though, Nick Kyrgios (top twenty player and Kokk’s longtime bestie) tweeted that he hoped Thanasi would win, that Verdasco was the ‘saltiest dude’ (lol) and made fun of Verdasco’s record against Australian players which, at the time, was 0-6. He deleted it, Verdasco found out and tweeted him about it then blocked him, Kyrgios then wrote a tweet aimed both publicly and at Verdasco justifying his decision to delete the initial tweet and then everything was left. And then, yesterday, Verdasco decided to tweet that it wasn’t Thanasi’s dad he was talking about which is an obvious outright lie as he spent the entire day before saying he didn’t realise it was his dad but now he knew he was sorry.

Now the thing with this, I get why the tennis media focused on it. It’s tennis, nothing this ~exciting~ ever happens. It’s why I like the younger players tbh, I find it more relatable to see these younger guys not afraid to put out a funny, petty tweet like me in my Script days would than see the older ones who are too scared to ever express an opinion in fear of it being bad PR. But, the day before, Kyrgios was hitting on the practice courts with the kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (the school that had the horrific shooting back in February), and that drew almost zero attention from the media. Nick didn’t do it for publicity at all and didn’t make a big deal about it so naturally it got less exposure but the tennis world was aware that he did this too but chose to focus on one tweet over this. It wasn’t mentioned once after he tweeted about Verdasco the day after, nobody who spoke about HOW BAD HIS TWEETS WERE!!! also mentioned this other amazing thing he did.

Nick has his own charity, the Nick Kyrgios Foundation, for underprivileged youth. He’s always inviting kids in hard situations to his practices and not too much is said about it by the media. On Sunday the MSD High tennis team were invited for the Miami Open’s own mini March For Our Lives with lots of players participating, but it was Nick who went out of his way to hang out with them before and after this. Nobody focuses on this stuff anywhere near as much as they focus on a tweet he made calling another player salty. Also, Nick was tweeting along to a tennis match. Something most viewers do. If it’s fine for tennis fans and journos to tweet along to a match and voice their opinion as events unfold, why can’t Nick do the same?

I understand that saying something negative or controversial on social media will always come back to bite you, especially if you’re a public figure with a following who really keep up with what you say, and everyone on social media has some sort of responsibility for themselves to think about what they post and how they want to be perceived depending on what they’re posting. But, is it really that important when the only thing others will focus on is the one negative thing you’ve tweeted amongst the dozens of positive actions you’ve taken?

There’s a massive difference between starting some dramz and being genuinely offensive. The Tennys Sandgren thing that happened a few months ago was far worse because some of the content he liked came from discriminatory, racist, sexist accounts. Nick just called someone salty. And yes, it’s hella funny seeing middle aged tennis journos trying to give viewers an accurate definition of salty. Whilst Sandgren got a lot of shit for it at the time, it’s sort of been dropped. Nick’s tweet to Verdasco is being sensationalised at the moment because the media love to construct him as the bad boy of tennis, just because of the way he acted when he was eighteen and first turned pro.

So why should we bother to filter out what we say if we are going to be put into a stereotype anyway? People who want to see us as the bad boy of tennis, or ykno just the bad guy, are going to see us as that and that’s their problem. You could tweet compliments to 100 people a day but if you tweet that you hate mules suddenly someone will come at you like stop hating on looks people enjoy pls x and label you a hater or a judgemental bitch or something like that. Ofc I mean this in the posting something funny and sassy and slightly controversial sense, not posting discriminatory stuff.

We’re always taught and told to not post anything we wouldn’t want a future employer seeing, and I carry this now but didn’t as much when I was fifteen and running my mouth off in The Script’s fanbase, and I find those old tweets so damn funny when they come up in my Timehop that I refuse to delete them. People who have good judgement and people who matter will know that I am no longer like that and wouldn’t have tweeted things maliciously if they were to ever see the tweets. Tbh, when I look back on them, they’re not even bad.

In terms of these controversial, drama-causing tweets – how much do they really matter? If something is opinionated but slightly negative when almost everything else you do/say demonstrates that you are a nice person then does it really matter that much? If someone is going to pick out that one opinionated tweet and judge you on that instead of everything positive you’ve always displayed, surely it says more about them than you?

The funny thing is, when I initially planned to write this post after the Sandgren incident, my view was wow what you do on social media really matters (I mean, I already knew this but that was my only take) but now, seeing how this Kyrgios thing has played out, I think there are factors that determine whether or not what you’ve said matters, and just how much it matters.

Being offensive or prejudicing others is just a no. But when it’s something opinionated it’s important to take into account who follows you, how much influence you have (eg public figures are always held more to account than ‘normal people’, the fairness is another debate but that’s just how it is regardless), whether or not you care about people’s perception of you for a certain post, the type of reputation and online presence you want to have, whether your tweet offends or targets someone and if it does, how it offends and targets them.

Calling someone salty isn’t that bad, and stating a fact about their 0-6 Australian players record is a fact a la Kygs so it can’t exactly be bitchy and shouldn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things. Belittling people because they may possess a trait or even possess a certain type of hat is unfair and matters. Picking on people for their life choices matters, it makes you look like a lil bitch. If you don’t even want to look opinionated, then it may matter to you if you tweet something with a strong opinion even if it doesn’t hurt anyone.

There’s a line we cross where we become fake and hide parts of our personality because we are too worried we will look like we are offending people online. This is exactly what happened to me. Is it worse to be fake in order to look like you’re staying in line, or should we voice our opinions if it’s not going to really target or hurt anyone? Pretending to be something or someone you’re not will catch up to you the same way an offensive social media post will so it can be hard to balance the scales.

My view? As long as you’re not outright targeting and hurting people or groups and being discriminatory, you should be the one determining just how much what you’re about to post matters to you and you should post it if you don’t think it matters that much. If it’s not really offensive, it’s fine to tweet along to a TV show and say you think x person is bad in the role or fine to say you don’t like someone’s new album compared to their old stuff. It’s fine to post that you do or don’t agree with something. This is a fragile subject, but to me as long as nobody is being hurt or discriminated against then it’s really up to you what you want to say, share, post, like, retweet, regram. I try not to say things that will catch up with me, but yes I happily voiced my opinion in this whole grown-ass-athletes-indirecting-each-other-on-twitter business, I will happily voice my opinion when I don’t agree with something that I think is straight up wrong like sexism, and as long as nobody can be hurt by what I say then I’ll hit share. After writing that post about losing my sass, I realised it would end up being fake if I kept every opinion I had to myself and sat on the fence constantly. I’m happy with how I’m presenting myself online at the moment, people generally know that if I voice something negatively that it doesn’t reflect on my character and know that I am a good person, and I know that everything I say now can’t be held against me unless someone is really trying to reach.

There will always be people in life who don’t like you, these are the people who will find any excuse to construct you as the bad guy in their minds and that’s when they’ll use your one opinionated post against you despite overwhelming evidence proving that you’re just a regular nice gal. And the media will always be looking for a story, it’s up to us as consumers of the media to get more information in order to make a balanced judgement. Don’t let someone else’s version of events and selective use of information affect the way you view something or someone. If everyone’s going off at someone for calling their colleague salty (ha, now this sounds like something that would’ve happened in my old retail job) but that person is really out here creating a charity for underprivileged children and taking the time out of their day to do something nice for a group of kids who went through something traumatic because they genuinely care, what do you think defines them more? Are you really still going to think they’re a bad person?

And the Kyrgios/Kokkinakis/Verdasco incident that made me write this post? I find it hella funny. It’s not really changed my perception of any of them, I’m just enjoying sitting here watching the tweets roll in and having a good laugh. Here for a good time not a long time n all that x

Sorry if this post seems a bit all over the place btw, obviously these events are so recent that I didn’t manage to write this post in advance because the idea only sparked again yesterday after this twitter tennis incident. And soz for lack of outfit posts, the weather is tragic so I couldn’t go shoot and had to settle for this pic my friend took of me at coffee yesterday which obvs wasn’t a fully fledged outfit shoot hence there only being one.

Yasmin

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