At its worst social media is like giving an idiot a megaphone and putting them in the middle of Federation Square. They will shout their every thought for everyone to hear whether they like it or not.
Unfortunately for Brock McLean he experienced it at its worst and from multiple perspectives. McLean was on the receiving end of this megaphone wielded by one quite witty ‘idiot’. He experienced first hand how easily people can get at others on Twitter.
McLean was also able to fill the role of the ‘idiot’ himself posting an ill-thought response only to quickly realise how many people can hear what you shout into that megaphone.
What this latest social media gaffe by an AFL player brings to the fore yet again, is the place of social media in the AFL.
The majority of the public has a social media account these days and AFL players don’t seem be much different. The only contrast is that they have a larger audience and rightly or wrongly they are held to higher standards of behaviour by the AFL, their clubs, the media and the public.
With this kind of scrutiny it one would think the players behave themselves online. However there are countless examples of social media misuse, you only have to look back a week to see the most recent example.
In most of these circumstances the comments are irrelevant and are not worth mentioning but when the media watches player accounts looking for the next big scandal care must be taken.
With factors such as reputations and sponsors on the line clubs may have to take action. Despite how ridiculous, do not rule out the possibility of restrictions being imposed, there is too much to lose.
Despite this risk social media is not all bad. Most players know how to use it well. They can be entertaining. Players can use Facebook and Twitter for their personal lives as most people do. These platforms also allow the average punter to get to know the players they worship on a Saturday a little better.
It also gives the players a right of reply. Dane Swan’s tweet ‘Off to bed with a bucket of KFC. Yummy!!’ in response to comments about his weight are the perfect example of how a player should use Twitter in the face of criticism – with humour.
The simple solution is common sense, not restrictions. The players know the rules and expectations and should be able to adhere to them easily; and if a player lacks the common sense to stay out of trouble, maybe they should ask a friend to check their Tweets before posting. It would solve a lot of problems.