Great article on the rise of the weird online fanbase

Mercurial

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The behavior mentioned in the article seem to be the usual things that happened before social media when younger, peripheral, less organised, or not accepted into the peer group fans had a go at venting. But, back then that group of fans didn't really have any outlet more than their 3 friends and no one cared much.

Being a fan required some type of membership, social credit and a lot of time investment, and opinions were tempered by peers. Now everyone can just hop onto the instant gratification fan bandwagon on social media to bleat unfiltered, histrionic and sometimes horrible opinions at a moments notice.

The problem for me is when reputable ways-of-old/outlets/fan groups/pundits feel threatened and change behavior to follow these trends thinking online minority carry the voices of the silent masses, just to appease online fans for follows, revenue and ad money.

This will just get more common, not less. And will emerge on many aspects of society. It's the new type of world where 10 polite private emails to customer support gives you less resolving power than one sharp public 1star on Google reviews and problem solved 30 minutes later.

I'm amazed a place like the Caf still exists and thrives.
 

Bobcat

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That was a good read, but i honestly think the operative word here is online as this kind of anonymous, self entitled shit mongering is hardly limited to football fandom.

He mentions gamergate, but gaming forums and online gaming in general is toxic as feck and if game devs dont bow to their every whim they are a bunch of incompetent arseholes that should all be flogged. I bet my house on that when the next FIFA gets released, the EA forums are going to be filled with rageposts detaling how EA are all liars and thieves and that they are "never going spend a penny on another FIFA" (I think they are, thats why i stopped buying that abomination)
 

justsomebloke

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We also have a huge amount of jerks, who humiliate players or make free criticisms. They are often children.
I suppose you have to focus on the positive aspects and how you can expand the level of opinions or follow-up to certain players.
Well, I admire your fortitude and optimism.
 

BazzaBear

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I've thought for a while now that there is a cult of 'football knowledge', whereby a set of people feel an overwhelming need to be seen as incredibly astute and erudite. And somehow, it seems, they feel that the only way to show they know more than others is to be hypercritical. So every opinion is a negative one, and they give their own team more grief than opposition fans do.
Apparently you can't be positive about something while also showing how knowledgeable you are.
 

Lynty

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  • Extremes of opinion get interaction online.
  • Reasonable/logical viewpoints are often silently agreed with and don't offer enough discussion opportunities.

This forum has got significantly worse over the years and I only stick around as it passes some time at work and I like to see if other United fans opinions validate my own. The same reason why hip-hop reaction videos are so popular on YouTube.
 

tomaldinho1

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Social media in all forms is growing increasingly negative, I actually think the caf is generally one of the least extreme places though. People generally aren't out of order for no reason (ignore anyone who is) and I feel it's very easy to spot wind up merchants and also people who are just looking for an argument.

Deep dive this article though and you can clearly identify what is so addictive about football but also in my mind the root cause of the all the issues highlighted in the piece. The part that really made me think was the bit at the start about how the writer is qualifying how much they love Liverpool, 'Hell, I'd spend Christmas with Jurgen Klopp instead of my family if I could.'...is that a good thing? Does that mean this person is a good fan? Are they somehow 'better' than other fans because of this?

I love United, love all the legends, love football in general but seeing my family at Christmas is sacrosanct - hell, seeing my family/friends for big occasions is what is most important to me. Maybe when I was a child/teenager and living at home I'd have said I wanted to spend Christmas with SAF, when I had posters of players, collected sticker books, wanted the newest boots etc but I grew up...maybe this won't be a popular thought on here because (in line the 'Top Reds' part of the piece) some fans don't want to hear this kind of thing but football should never be the first priority in your life as an adult and if it is, you need to change that. It is good to care about football, to belong to something and nothing beats the thrill of going to a game to follow the highs and lows but actually the most enjoyable part is doing that with people, it's the social side of an away day or even going to the pub with friends. Looking at how offended some people get about random strangers' opinions online, it's probable many care too much.
 

Herman Toothrot

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Social media has given an outlet for every utterance people wish to make. They don't need to filter or even dwell on their comments before making them, its just brain to phone in a second. Then people get into a feedback loop as other people support and echo their comments and the next time it comes even easier.

That said, I've been going to games for donkey's years now and it still never fails to amaze the absolute bullshit that you hear from people on the way home from a game. Twitter doesn't have a monopoly on bad takes.
The worst is when you're stuck next to some loudmouth dickhead for the entire season and you're forced to listen to them shouting pure abuse every time someone misplaces a pass.
 

vodrake

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I've thought for a while now that there is a cult of 'football knowledge', whereby a set of people feel an overwhelming need to be seen as incredibly astute and erudite. And somehow, it seems, they feel that the only way to show they know more than others is to be hypercritical. So every opinion is a negative one, and they give their own team more grief than opposition fans do.
Apparently you can't be positive about something while also showing how knowledgeable you are.
I've started feeling that some fans don't actually watch anywhere near as much football as they pretend to, but as you say there is this almost overwhelming culture of being seen to be an expert on all things football. There's a need to have an opinion on everything, so it all becomes knee-jerk hot-takes based on limited info or just copying other people's opinion but slightly exaggerating it to show you are more knowledgeable. But then someone takes your opinion and exaggerates it further and so on until over time you end up with only the most extreme polarized views and nobody remembers the fairly moderate middle ground opinion it came from.

I don't think it's anything new. I've spoken to plenty of blokes down the pub who are confidently spouting an opinion I definitely know they just copied off the back page of the Sun, but the reach and cliquey nature of forums/social media has allowed these opinions to propagate further and become more extreme quicker than before
 
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Cloud7

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Why do these threads always seem to boil down to “If you don’t think like I do, or don’t agree with the opinions that I have, then there’s something wrong with you”?
 

Wumminator

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Why do these threads always seem to boil down to “If you don’t think like I do, or don’t agree with the opinions that I have, then there’s something wrong with you”?
Because there is a correct way to act as an online fan of a club and some people act weirdly compared to that.
 

Wumminator

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I've started feeling that some fans don't actually watch anywhere near as much football as they pretend to, but as you say there is this almost overwhelming culture of being seen to be an expert on all things football. There's a need to have an opinion on everything, so it all becomes knee-jerk hot-takes based on limited info or just copying other people's opinion but slightly exaggerating it to show you are more knowledgeable. But then someone takes your opinion and exaggerates it further and so on until over time you end up with only the most extreme polarized views and nobody remembers the fairly moderate middle ground opinion it came from.

I don't think it's anything new. I've spoken to plenty of blokes down the pub who are confidently spouting an opinion I definitely know they just copied off the back page of the Sun, but the reach and cliquey nature of forums/social media has allowed these opinions to propagate further and become more extreme quicker than before
There are so many people who pretend to have an in depth opinion on other players in the league based on maybe watching them four times a year. Anyone someone from the UK starts talking about Atletico players or the latest Feyernoord player in detail you know they’re a knobber.
 

Cultured left ankle

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I've thought for a while now that there is a cult of 'football knowledge', whereby a set of people feel an overwhelming need to be seen as incredibly astute and erudite. And somehow, it seems, they feel that the only way to show they know more than others is to be hypercritical. So every opinion is a negative one, and they give their own team more grief than opposition fans do.
Apparently you can't be positive about something while also showing how knowledgeable you are.
Yes, but this applies to all sorts of things - music, movies, anything really. I have long suspected it's because to say you like something is like opening yourself up. it might make someone feel vulnerable to some extent: for example, at work today we were having a conversation about our favourite bands and I nervously mentioned I like Radiohead - very non-controversial, but even at 41 amongst colleagues I get on with, I felt a flush of embarassment. Weird. But often it can be difficult to say why you like something. Many times it can come down to a subjective 'just because'. I've always liked players like McTominay or Fortune or Ighalo or O'Shea not because they are objectively the best, but because seeing them play for United means something unquantifiable to me. I can see something of myself in them, you know?

It is much easier to tear things down - to say that not only do you not like something, but, "objectively" (int their opinion), this is why it's bad. You never have to reveal who you are. Often the same people will only like obvious things or perhaps obscure things. It's hard to tell someone why Ray Bennion shouldn't be your favourite player if you've never seen them play. In a way it's kind of sad. Does it really matter if I love watching McT stomp about having a great old time on the pitch? Does it prove that I have low standards and that I should go and watch Stoke or someone?
 
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Wumminator

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Yes, but this applies to all sorts of things - music, movies, anything really. I have long suspected it's because to say you like something is like opening yourself up. it might make someone feel vulnerable to some extent: for example, at work today we were having a conversation about our favourite bands and I nervously mentioned I like Radiohead - very non-controversial, but even at 41 amongst colleagues I get on with, I felt a flush of embarassment. Weird. But often it can be difficult to say why you like something. Many times it can come down to a subjective 'just because'. I've always liked players like McTominay or Fortune or Ighalo or O'Shea not because they are objectively the best, but because seeing them play for United means something unquantifiable to me. I can see something of myself in them, you know?

It is much easier to tear things down - to say that not only do you not like something, but, "objectively" (int their opinion), this is why it's bad. You never have to reveal who you are. Often the same people will only like obvious things or perhaps obscure things. It's hard to tell someone why Ray Bennion shouldn't be your favourite player if you've never seen them play. In a way it's kind of sad. Does it really matter if I love watching McT stomp about having a great old time on the pitch? Does it prove that I have low standards and that I should go and watch Stoke or someone?
What the hell - you like Ighalo and Fortune. This guy is an idiot and we should all laugh at him behind his back.
 

Pablo76

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Literally could’ve been written about Redcafe
 

owlo

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Yeah, so, do you want to share what you think is wrong with it, or are we all expected to just think "Ooh, Owlo doesn't like it so it must be shit"?
I'm a little disappointed that a Liverpool fan put more of an effort into something than a poster on a Manchester United forum, but here we are.
Not going too deep as I don't tend to waste my time fighting with others on my team over disagreements, but in short:

- He doesn't codify the 'online fan.'
- Denigrates and dehumanises those he feels aren't 'fitting in,' without any qualification but their disagreements
- Several paragraphs about how he's an old bloke who supported before the internet existed - completely irrelevant
- Individual quotes which he then applies to the 'online fan' - Shock horror, some people hold trash/extreme views. There's no causation whatsoever
- Talks about youth culture and capitalism???

Now he tries to define an 'online fan' as
1) Likes transfers
2) Likes fighting with other fans
3) Pessimistic.

He's been around football soooooo long, yet he thinks these are 'online fan' traits? Wake up and smell the coffee son.

- Loads more speculative and emotive driven drivel.

Not to mention, it's somehow ok to label groups of people weird and subhuman. Like we never did that with gays, jews, blacks, and the mentally ill.

Perhaps he simply doesn't understand that twitter and forums are full of people looking for reactions and attention, just like most of these people and @Wumminator
 

Pablo76

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Not going too deep as I don't tend to waste my time fighting with others on my team over disagreements, but in short:

- He doesn't codify the 'online fan.'
- Denigrates and dehumanises those he feels aren't 'fitting in,' without any qualification but their disagreements
- Several paragraphs about how he's an old bloke who supported before the internet existed - completely irrelevant
- Individual quotes which he then applies to the 'online fan' - Shock horror, some people hold trash/extreme views. There's no causation whatsoever
- Talks about youth culture and capitalism???

Now he tries to define an 'online fan' as
1) Likes transfers
2) Likes fighting with other fans
3) Pessimistic.

He's been around football soooooo long, yet he thinks these are 'online fan' traits? Wake up and smell the coffee son.

- Loads more speculative and emotive driven drivel.

Not to mention, it's somehow ok to label groups of people weird and subhuman. Like we never did that with gays, jews, blacks, and the mentally ill.

Perhaps he simply doesn't understand that twitter and forums are full of people looking for reactions and attention, just like most of these people and @Wumminator
Great post.
 

Pablo76

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Want to point the irony out?
Online fans thinking their opinions are king, turning on each other and really not being a true representation of the match going fans, something I’ve always advocated btw.
 

Melbourne Red

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Not going too deep as I don't tend to waste my time fighting with others on my team over disagreements, but in short:

- He doesn't codify the 'online fan.'
- Denigrates and dehumanises those he feels aren't 'fitting in,' without any qualification but their disagreements
- Several paragraphs about how he's an old bloke who supported before the internet existed - completely irrelevant
- Individual quotes which he then applies to the 'online fan' - Shock horror, some people hold trash/extreme views. There's no causation whatsoever
- Talks about youth culture and capitalism???

Now he tries to define an 'online fan' as
1) Likes transfers
2) Likes fighting with other fans
3) Pessimistic.

He's been around football soooooo long, yet he thinks these are 'online fan' traits? Wake up and smell the coffee son.

- Loads more speculative and emotive driven drivel.

Not to mention, it's somehow ok to label groups of people weird and subhuman. Like we never did that with gays, jews, blacks, and the mentally ill.

Perhaps he simply doesn't understand that twitter and forums are full of people looking for reactions and attention, just like most of these people and @Wumminator
This is pretty much the size of it. Good assessment of that article
 

meamth

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These new fans doesn't believe in romanticism of Man United's history, which I believe is the most important aspect of supporting United.

They want us to be like Chelsea, chopping managers here and there, signing players instead of nurturing youngsters.

The club has values, true fans can relate with that, pity to those who can't.
 

meamth

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The worst is when you're stuck next to some loudmouth dickhead for the entire season and you're forced to listen to them shouting pure abuse every time someone misplaces a pass.
I had those kind of fans during my college years.

Can't shut up whenever we played bad (during Fergie's era, yes we do play shit games a lot - more often than not)

My god the abuse he threw at Anderson, Berbatov, Fletcher, Carrick, calling them trash, retarded when we're losing or trailing.

That's the same kind of fans here who whine and moan whenever we lose.
 

Kopral Jono

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Not going too deep as I don't tend to waste my time fighting with others on my team over disagreements, but in short:

- He doesn't codify the 'online fan.'
- Denigrates and dehumanises those he feels aren't 'fitting in,' without any qualification but their disagreements
- Several paragraphs about how he's an old bloke who supported before the internet existed - completely irrelevant
- Individual quotes which he then applies to the 'online fan' - Shock horror, some people hold trash/extreme views. There's no causation whatsoever
- Talks about youth culture and capitalism???

Now he tries to define an 'online fan' as
1) Likes transfers
2) Likes fighting with other fans
3) Pessimistic.

He's been around football soooooo long, yet he thinks these are 'online fan' traits? Wake up and smell the coffee son.

- Loads more speculative and emotive driven drivel.

Not to mention, it's somehow ok to label groups of people weird and subhuman. Like we never did that with gays, jews, blacks, and the mentally ill.

Perhaps he simply doesn't understand that twitter and forums are full of people looking for reactions and attention, just like most of these people and @Wumminator
Fantastic post, bolded needs to emphasised over and over again.
 

RoyH1

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Spot on article. Absolutely true. You kind of wish this particular kind of online fan would just drop us and go support PSG or the like.
 

Bebestation

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I mean the article became ten times more relevant than ever last night.
It's that need to complain that pisses me off.

Like for example - how many people do you see constantly complain about Wan Bissaka for example?

There are some fans who are able to watch a match and support all 11 players.

Then there are fans who are pissed off at the player before the match starts, is waiting for the mistake to happen so they can spend the rest of the night complaining about a player than supporting the first 11.

It's irritating.

This is a forum- but they ultimately think that their view on a player and them complaining will help the club by dropping the player - by helping the manager see what they are seeing or some shit.

The ability to support a club is dead. The ability to support your mindset has taken over.
 

E-mal

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Spot on article. Absolutely true. You kind of wish this particular kind of online fan would just drop us and go support PSG or the like.
Because ? Get off your high horse mate.
People speaking out their opinion about an issue doesn't make them less of a true fan. In fact it could be argued that it's their love for the team that makes them this emotional.
As long as anybody remain respectful with his opinion, that individual is free to voice it.

I for one believe we have an incompetent manager in charge, it doesnt affect my love for him as a footballer but the facts are there for me to see. It is fine if you cant see it or share a different opinion about it or any other issue but it doesnt make me less of fan and suggesting that is just poor form from you.

Stop telling people to go support another club because they have a different opinion.
 

AjaxCunian

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Because ? Get off your high horse mate.
People speaking out their opinion about an issue doesn't make them less of a true fan. In fact it could be argued that it's their love for the team that makes them this emotional.
As long as anybody remain respectful with his opinion, that individual is free to voice it.

I for one believe we have an incompetent manager in charge, it doesnt affect my love for him as a footballer but the facts are there for me to see. It is fine if you cant see it or share a different opinion about it or any other issue but it doesnt make me less of fan and suggesting that is just poor form from you.

Stop telling people to go support another club because they have a different opinion.
Doesnt PSG deserve real supporters too?
 

afrocentricity

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It just makes the forum a chore. Even when we do well it's flooded by miserable motherfeckers...
 

NoLogo

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I can't remember why I joined this war.
The behavior mentioned in the article seem to be the usual things that happened before social media when younger, peripheral, less organised, or not accepted into the peer group fans had a go at venting. But, back then that group of fans didn't really have any outlet more than their 3 friends and no one cared much.

Being a fan required some type of membership, social credit and a lot of time investment, and opinions were tempered by peers. Now everyone can just hop onto the instant gratification fan bandwagon on social media to bleat unfiltered, histrionic and sometimes horrible opinions at a moments notice.

The problem for me is when reputable ways-of-old/outlets/fan groups/pundits feel threatened and change behavior to follow these trends thinking online minority carry the voices of the silent masses, just to appease online fans for follows, revenue and ad money.

This will just get more common, not less. And will emerge on many aspects of society. It's the new type of world where 10 polite private emails to customer support gives you less resolving power than one sharp public 1star on Google reviews and problem solved 30 minutes later.

I'm amazed a place like the Caf still exists and thrives.
One of the main problems with social media for me is that we haven't learned to ignore the opinions of idiots yet. These platforms make it possible that everyone's opinion can get seen, but we somehow forgot that we don't really have to read it.

That's why I don't read trends on Twitter, the topic will be 99% some nonsense outrage, and I sure as hell don't read anything about United after a game. In some sense the same goes for the caf, I may have a look into a moan thread but if there is too much nonsense I'll ignore it 90% of the time.

People really need to learn not to get angry about reading nonsense on the internet, life is too short for that. I feel much more relaxed since I realized I can ignore stupid stuff on the internet as well. :D

Feel free to assume this advice is nonsense, what the hell do I know.
 

E-mal

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It just makes the forum a chore. Even when we do well it's flooded by miserable motherfeckers...
This is because even when we do well, it is difficult to see it being sustainable.
We havnt stifled teams from the first whistle this season, always giving them a sniff. The signs are there that we wont get any form of consistency this season.
 

afrocentricity

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This is because even when we do well, it is difficult to see it being sustainable.
We havnt stifled teams from the first whistle this season, always giving them a sniff. The signs are there that we wont get any form of consistency this season.
I'll be frank. If you can't be happy and stow the moaning when we do well then when will you ever be happy? It's a choice, and one that I'll never understand. Some of you just like to be unhappy.... and unfortunately a lot of you like to pour it all out on the cafe which leads to a cascade of misery for everyone else.

Another tip, your expectations are what's leading to your disappointment. You decide where you want to set them...
 

RoyH1

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Because ? Get off your high horse mate.
People speaking out their opinion about an issue doesn't make them less of a true fan. In fact it could be argued that it's their love for the team that makes them this emotional.
As long as anybody remain respectful with his opinion, that individual is free to voice it.

I for one believe we have an incompetent manager in charge, it doesnt affect my love for him as a footballer but the facts are there for me to see. It is fine if you cant see it or share a different opinion about it or any other issue but it doesnt make me less of fan and suggesting that is just poor form from you.

Stop telling people to go support another club because they have a different opinion.
I like my high horse. The view is very good from up here and the air is fresh and clean.
 

Shiva87

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Don't think the article is saying anything nuanced honestly. It's the author venting his frustrations by claiming that it's the online fan who alone has these traits.

I know many United fans (in person) who associate more with transfers than with the actual results on the pitch. One of the reasons why last summer was the most toxic one for the club that I remember (failed Sancho bid, and utterly uninspired signings of Cavani, Amad, Pellestri and Telles). Their logic is that it shows the ambition of the club and justifies their support for the whole season.

On the other hand, I prefer supporting our players getting better every season (Rashford, Greenwood etc), but enjoy it when someone like a Varane comes in!
 
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E-mal

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I'll be frank. If you can't be happy and stow the moaning when we do well then when will you ever be happy? It's a choice, and one that I'll never understand. Some of you just like to be unhappy.... and unfortunately a lot of you like to pour it all out on the cafe which leads to a cascade of misery for everyone else.

Another tip, your expectations are what's leading to your disappointment. You decide where you want to set them...
Pretty sure the cafe is not only for positive vibes but also for critical analysis.
I'm happy when we win and throw a few banter against opposition fans, but ultimately one cannot just overlook the lapses in how we play.
May be it's the expectations, may be being the 4th best team in the league and a yoyo European team should be satisfying enough for true loyal fan of Manchester United.
Oh well, what do I know.