We’ve just experienced the Caroline Flack weekend. Whatever you thought of her or her situation I think it’s safe to say we all had a “Seriously?” moment when we heard the news.
She was a figure that most of us recognised from TV over the past 10 or 15 years, and despite all her recent issues, someone of relatively high profile killing themselves at a young age remains, in this gun-free country of ours, a true rarity.
The response was predictable. Those who perpetuate a hostile, bullying environment began breathtaking 180 degree turns to fit their perception of which way the public wind was blowing. Piers Morgan spun his web of mendacity so quickly that if you’d put a shovel blade on his feet he’d have drilled through to China.
Equally as predictable was the largely well-intentioned public response. We had the Change.Org petitions on Facebook. Being a cynical sod, I tend to think these don’t really change very much but they do give the signees a sense of action on their part, and it does address the issue so there’s some merit there I suppose.
We’ve then had the obligatory RIP messages. Nothing wrong with those, we all do them when someone dies that we liked.
Where I think we go wrong though is some people do them too much. It’s become almost a reflex. Like our social media accounts are corporate profiles and we feel we have to check the box to say we cared, regardless of whether we did.
It’s the same with the minute’s silence or applause at games. I have no issue in doing it for someone that meant something to me. At a Norwich game that means a player or well-known member of staff. Or likewise from the opposition we’re playing.
Personal opinion I know, but I don’t think we should be doing it for fans. Someone tweets “My Dad went to a game in 1973 and said he was a Norwich fan” and we’re all up clapping in the 73rd minute even though nobody knew this guy.
It’s okay to say “I don’t care” about something. It’s okay to say, “I don’t have an opinion” or “I don’t know anything about that subject”. It’s okay just to keep quiet. Not everything requires an outpouring of emotion or even a response.
It’s about being real. We seem to have lost that. It’s like we’re all preparing for public office and need to tick every box on the “seems to care about everything” CV.
The problem is. if you’re perpetually trying to be on the right side of history, you have to consider your position on every issue of the day.
And once you’ve picked that side you feel you have to provide your reasoning. And the problem with thoughts in your head is that they have an almost overwhelming desire to pop out of your mouth, or keyboard, when faced with a dissenting opinion. Because those people haven’t put in the mental work you have. If they had they’d have come to the same conclusion as you.
But the problem is when you start to explain how you came to that conclusion, they don’t want to let you explain. They veer off the point you’re trying to make. They try and pick apart your thoughts. You suspect it’s deliberate. That they’re enjoying being a dick about something you care about. So you shoot back at them. Passively aggressively at first (you’re not as bad as them after all), but then it develops into a proper argument.
Feelings get genuinely hurt. But if you trace it right back to the start, you’ll realise you never actually cared that much about the issue in the first place. You do now. Or at least about your perception of it.
Our own Gary G produced an article on MFW a couple of weeks ago. It attempted to sum up his thoughts on the interminable ownership debate. Personally, I’m bored to death of what I think is a non-issue, but I like Gary and he’s a good writer who’s easy to read, so I read it regardless.
He and I were on mildly different sides on this one, unusually. I’m perfectly happy with the club’s current direction and he, whilst far from being a militant malcontent, isn’t. As usual, his piece was thoughtful, balanced and gave me something to think about. It didn’t win me round to his way of thinking but I understood how he got there. (The benefit of writing a column is you get to present all your thoughts, rather than someone stopping you to nitpick every sentence).
He then proceeded to get a bit of a kicking from people who didn’t agree with him. This wasn’t inflamed rhetoric he was espousing. You can accuse Gary of many things but he’s not a provocateur. It was honest, reasoned opinion, and attempted to remain fair throughout. But every other word seemed to get picked over and Gary asked to explain himself. And bless him, he did, repeatedly over Twitter, before having had enough and retreating.
Gary has since produced another MFW article and will no doubt return to tweeting in his usual manner soon but he needed a break because all this sh1te got a bit too much. I know others writing for MFW and other sites have felt the same too at times. And it really is unnecessary.
The vast majority of people taking us to task for our opinions know that whatever they say won’t change anything in the real world. Their minor difference of opinion over a word or two isn’t something you’d even bother to bring up if you were discussing things with a mate in the pub because it would make you a tedious d1ck.
That’s not to say don’t comment if you disagree with something. By all means. I’ll probably get some stick for writing this. And if you really care that’s fine. If you have something to add that you think I haven’t mentioned and should have, let me know.
But don’t respond because you feel you must. Because replying to a Norwich City debate is a daily item you feel you have to tick off your chore list. Because having to care is actually time-consuming, irritating and makes you tetchy and prone to sniping.
I’d far rather you didn’t really care and just moved on with your day.
The other people we, as fans, have to care about, apart from each other, are the players.
As Todd Cantwell’s recent statements show, they do care about social media. They do get affected by public opinion. There’s a reason why every time one of the players posts something, the others all bundle on with positive supportive messages. They NEED that positive reinforcement. For the most part they get it from the fans. But it only takes one negative to cancel out a hell of a lot of positives. That’s unfortunately how the human psyche works.
If you want Norwich City to be successful, don’t tell Max Aarons on Instagram that you thought he was rubbish in the last game. Or Jamal Lewis that he was responsible for a goal conceded. You aren’t a hidden technical genius that is telling him something he hasn’t already considered. You’re just making him feel worse. You’re making his journey back to confidence harder.
Be friends to our players. Lift them up. They’ll take us with them.
Alright, preaching over. Let’s all try not to be c**** today shall we?