Earlier this week, ESPN analyst and former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling took to Twitter to congratulate her daughter Gabby on where she would be playing softball at the next level. Although the responses began innocently enough, it wasn’t too long until the dark side of Twitter then took over and Schilling and his daughter received crude, vulgar replies from individuals on Twitter who made various sexual threats.
On his personal blog, Schilling recounted some of the worst things that were tweeted and wrote at length about this kind of behavior that is all too common on Twitter…
I thank God every day that Facebook and Twitter, instagram, vine, Youtube, all of it, did not exist when I went to High School. I can’t imagine the dumb stuff I’d have been caught saying and doing.
If you are a dad this is something you well know already, if you are a dad with a daughter this is likely to get your blood going. If you are a boy, or young man, or husband, and you haven’t experienced children yet, or haven’t had a daughter, it’s next to impossible for you to understand.
And tweets with the word rape, bloody underwear and pretty much every other vulgar and defiling word you could likely fathom began to follow.
Now let me emphasize again. I was a jock my whole life. I played sports my whole life. Baseball since I was 5 until I retired at 41. I know clubhouses. I lived in a dorm. I get it. Guys will be guys. Guys will say dumb crap, often. But I can’t ever remember, drunk, in a clubhouse, with best friends, with anyone, ever speaking like this to someone…
Forget whether you agree with Schilling or not on baseball, politics, religion, or whatever. This kind of behavior has no place in any decent society. I couldn’t even imagine just purely as a father what must have been going through Schilling’s mind seeing those tweets. It’s enough to make you wonder just who is safe in the public eye anymore.
But if there is a moral to this story, it’s that actions (even on Twitter) have consequences. Schilling also shared the identity of at least two of the men who tweeted vile things about his daughter and said that he was able to locate several more. Further, many of them were in fact college athletes. It’s incredible to think that these individuals don’t think they could be held accountable for what they tweet:
The amount of vitriol I’ve heard is not an issue. I am sure I’ll hear more.
But I have to ask, is this even remotely ok? In ANY world? At ANY time?
Worse yet? No less than 7 of the clowns who sent vile or worse tweets are athletes playing college sports.
I knew every name and school, sport and position, of every one of them in less than an hour. The ones that didn’t play sports were just as easy to locate.
I’ve kept every tweet like the ones above.
Now again, I was 17, 18, all of those years when stupid was the operative word. But from the day I was born thru today the only time I may have ever uttered ANYTHING remotely close to this was on the field in the middle of a bench clearing brawl.
My daughter comes to me beyond upset. She didn’t do anything, she never said anything, yet she’s now receiving personal messages with guys saying things to her, well let’s just say I can’t repeat and I’m getting beyond angry thinking about it. Her boyfriend, a wicked good hockey player who has a fighting streak I absolutely love is going out of his mind to be let off his leash but unlike the athletes tweeting this stuff he understands the potential consequences of his actions and knows the time and place will hopefully come when he can make it right on his own terms.
These boys have yet to understand one of life’s most important lessons. In the real world you get held accountable for the things you say and if you are not careful that can mean some different things.
Twitter is a great tool. It’s transformed the way we consume news and interact with one another. It’s broken down walls and barriers that separated us and brought us closer together than ever before. While there are plenty of benefits to that, there’s also a very disturbing downside – it’s much easier to send threatening, bullying message to one another. And all too often, the people that send those tweets don’t realize that A) their name is attached to them and can easily follow them for the rest of their life and B) there’s a real person at the other end of that Twitter handle.
And yes, you could say that everyone who’s on Twitter and has more than 1,000 followers has to deal with some form of abuse. You could say that it’s just an unfortunate part of the medium and you have to take the good with the bad. But why should that be acceptable? Why shouldn’t people be held to account for what they say publicly on Twitter that they would never say to another human being in person? Why shouldn’t there be consequences to actions? Schilling should be applauded for being willing to stand up for his family and stand up for decent human behavior. Because unless we actually shine a light on this abusive Twitter behavior and do something about it, it’s not going to stop.