The Kevin Durant fake social media saga has taught us a lot, or at least it should have. As a public, we have taken the wrong message from what eventuated the past week. Durant shows a human side to athletes, a side we need to think about next time we leave a nasty social media comment.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Kevin Durant did not handle himself as well as he should have. He has admitted to this, discussing with The Athletic’s Anthony Slater that he took things “a little too far”. Durant added, “I do regret using my former coach’s name and the former organisation I played for. That was childish. That was idiotic, all those types of words. I apologise for that. I don’t think I’ll stop engaging with fans. I really enjoy it, and it’s a good way to connect us all, but I’ll scale back a little bit right now and just focus on playing basketball. I’ll move on from that, it was tough to deal with yesterday. I was pretty mad at myself. (I) Want to move on and keep playing basketball.”
Now, this admission from Durant tries to backtrack over his errors of the past week; Bringing down your former franchise, coach, and teammates is never a good look. However, let’s look past Kevin Durant’s fake social media accounts for a second and look at the issue we are all missing. These athletes are people, just like you and I, and should be treated better.
‘Internet trolling’ is cyberbullying
You can sugar-coat it any way you like and do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel as though you are above it: What happens online to people in the public eye is cyberbullying. You may think it is only a term for adolescents, however, take a look at this extract from nobullying.com’s definition of cyberbullying; there is no denying that the ugly side of Twitter fits into it.
Trolling: This involves trying to wind up others online with immature questions or don’t thmean comments.
It is true that adolescents are the target to most of the anti-bullying literature. However, they are in a developmental phase and need all the help they can get. However, if you don’t think it can affect adults too, then you are mistaken.
One unique thing that somebody in the spotlight has to deal with in regards to cyberbullying is the sheer amount of people who contribute to it. The negativity and trolling snowballs quickly and would be overwhelming. Below are three recent tweets from Kevin Durant that I found on his Twitter page. Along with Durant’s tweet are the top-rated comments on each Tweet.
Imagine that following your every online move? Imagine second guessing everything you do on social media because you will receive thousands of people throwing unrelated, and unwarranted insults at you. I know it would wear me down, and I am sure it would wear you down too.
But why the fake account?
If we think that Kevin Durant was the only NBA player with a second Twitter account then we are delusional. He was the one who got caught. Kathleen Hessert, the founder and president of Sports Media Challenge, a communications firm that works with a number of high-profile athletes guessed that as many as 40% of NBA athletes have fake Twitter accounts.
Looking at the Tweets above, I can see why Durant and others have fake Twitter accounts; Commenting back at critics must be so tempting. Although, being in the public eye means that the second you do, it will be screen-shot and turned into a news story. A fake Twitter account is a way to be a part of the conversation without getting found out.
I know that if there were thousands of comments about me on my posts, I would eventually check them, even if I knew they were negative. Humans are curious. We want to know things. That has advanced us these millions of years, and it is what drives us today. If needing a fake Twitter account to hide from the media is what it takes to get a second on anonymity online, then I say go for it.
Kevin Durant is closer than we think
As I mentioned at the beginning, Kevin Durant may not have handled himself as well as he would have like. Biting back at the trolls is a sure-fire way to do everything besides stop them. However, can you blame him? It is natural to want to bite back at critics. Durant said it best himself in a YouTube comment (of all places), he, and other people in the spotlight are just that. People. Individuals who happen to have kick-ass jobs, but regardless, still people. They are closer to us than we think.
Let’s look at it this way: Abuse and name-calling from hundreds-of-thousands of Twitter trolls resulted in Kevin Durant creating a second ‘fake’ account. That account gets found out, and we drag Kevin Durant through the coles. The trolls, on the other hand, face no consequences. What message is that sending about cyberbullying?