One of the great paradoxes of the modern digital/internet age is that whilst simultaneously handing us the opportunity to access a far greater range of resources than ever before, it also grants us the excuse to spend so much of our free time amongst like-minded souls.
This is all too clear in the world of politics where both left and right have become so cocooned in their own echo chambers that they barely speak the same language any more.
Yet it is also be true in the world soccer. Never in the history of the game has the average fan had such access to so many different leagues, opinions and all round coverage of the beautiful game; but neither has it been so easy for them to become so thoroughly embroiled in the private world of their own club.
Supporters of the wealthiest clubs now have their own television channels that provide more than their fill of (highly sanitized) news about the team, and even the smallest club will have any number of blogs and discussion forums dedicated to ensuring that those who wish to avoid the opinions of those that differ from their own can do so with ease.
Of course it would be foolish to deny that one of the joys of watching football (especially when it is your own team) is that it grants you licence to indulge and express emotions that need to be suppressed in regular life.
It’s okay to scream your anger at an opposing player, it’s acceptable to feel cheated by a referee that you are convinced is biased against you, and it’s even permissible to throw your morality out of the window and wholeheartedly celebrate when your team is the beneficiary of a ludicrously bad penalty decision.
That kind of emotional release isn’t just cathartic, it’s positively healthy.
The problems come when those emotions carry over into the rest of the week and you start to really believe that your team and their fans are somehow different to all the others.
How many times do you read in a comments section that supporters of team x are always complaining, or that supporters of team y are arrogant, when what it really boils down to is that team x are on a bad run and team y are doing well?
There is nothing wrong with feeling part of a group, but parts of the online world have become so incestuous that group thinking can replace rational individual behaviour far more easily than it ever did in the past.
Anything written about either Barcelona or Real Madrid for example will immediately bring out factions from either side with far more interest in damning the other than any interest in genuine debate.
And in recent weeks we have seen Arsenal fans chant their wish that Adebayor had been killed in a terrorist attack and Tottenham fans chant abuse at the Arsenal manager, as well as Leeds United and Manchester United supporters mock the fatal tragedies that each club has suffered.
All that is bad enough as it stands but, despite the condemnation from so many sources, a number of those fans have since retreated to the forums to somehow try to defend their actions whilst simultaneously condemning their counterparts, thus stoking up the outrage for any future encounters.
There is no easy answer to stopping this I’m afraid, although the clubs could certainly do far more to clamp down on the chants inside the stadium and fellow fans could do more to exert peer pressure to silence the idiots far quicker than any security presence could.
For those of us who watch the game from afar however there is little we can do apart from not falling into the trap of thinking that a cabal of journalists and media outlets have a secret agenda against our team.
And try to explain to our none soccer loving friends why several thousand people are mocking the deaths of others at a sporting event.
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