Quasi-intimacy and the dangers of social media

Twitter has drastically changed the relationship between fans and sports teams. It has allowed fans to not only follow their favorite teams, but be in the loop with their favorite players in live time.

Fans and teams are more connected than ever before. Win-win, right? Not so fast.

One of the consequences of this new relationship reared its ugly head a week ago.

Seattle’s favorite quarterback, Russell Wilson, has amassed over a million followers on Twitter. He stays in touch with his fans by sending them Bible verses, motivational quotes, and inspirational photos.

But on Feb. 13 he sent out a tweet that irked some of his followers. It was the opening weekend of the sexy, controversial drama “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Wilson tweeted he had gone to an early premiere of the film. “Great movie,” the tweet said in part.

Then the stones were thrown:


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“if you call yourself a follower of Jesus then you should have never seen that movie. Makes you look like a hypocrite.”

“lots of respect for you… but why endorse this movie? Disappointing.”

The responses were overwhelmingly negative.

It created enough of a stir that that Wilson sent a follow-up tweet: “Saw a movie filmed in the town I call home. Provocative/disturbing no doubt but that does not make me less Faithful. Have a blessed day!”

I claimed earlier this is one of the ugly consequences of fans being able to directly correspond to athletes and now I’ll explain why.

As a result of being able to keep up with Wilson’s day-to-day thoughts, ideas and activities, a certain intimacy formed between him and followers. That is, after all, what Twitter was designed for. But is that intimacy actually real? By clicking “follow” next to a picture of Wilson, do we really become best buds with him?

I don’t think so. There are serious limitations to social media and how close you can be with someone else through it.

Whether it was going to see an R-rated film or something else, the Twitterverse has no business judging someone’s actions. It is hurtful, shameful and unfair to the person who gets the brunt end of it — which, in this case, was Wilson. In order to accurately judge anyone, you need to have a relationship with that individual.

And being a follower is not the same as being in a relationship with them — period.