The last few weeks have been very emotional for Central Florida. While the terrorist attack on a nightclub happened within the city limits of Orlando, it affected many of the surrounding areas, including Tampa Bay. When the Rays decided to make their annual Pride Night a symbol of unity and community, the baseball world was also brought into the sphere of emotions.
Over the last week, I have written about Rays Pride Night a few times. It would be an understatement to say it was a success. The outpouring of support from across the community and across baseball was overwhelming and great to see.
Although I did not go to the game, I did watch on tv and follow along on twitter. While the game was an admitted sell-out, I was curious what the official attendance count would be. At the same time, I was reading tweets and reactions to the very positive, very uplifting night.
At an unofficial estimate, 99.99% of tweets and social media responses were positive. I saw only one tweet that was a huge example of what not to say and how not to talk about tragedy.
Now, I get what he was trying to say. But this is so unbearably stupid and poorly worded, it is offensive. Offensive to Rays fans, the Tampa Bay sports community, and everyone affected by the tragedy.
When he made that tweet, Aaron Emerson wrote for a blog called LastWordOnSports – a small independent sports blog that tries to cover every sport by hiring amateur writers who either want to build a sportswriting portfolio or who want to write about sports as a hobby. These blogs are a dime a dozen, don’t make a very big impact in greater sports media, and often fold as quick as they arrived. I should know, I wrote for a few.
After receiving hours of backlash from Rays fans calling his tweet insensitive and dumb, LastWordOnSports began apologizing for Emerson’s tweet. That was classy of them. Unfortunately, Emerson continued to dig deeper, further insulting Rays fans who advised him to delete the tweet and stop tweeting.
I’ve been that young writer – although never this stupid. Twitter makes engaging responses so instantaneous that often writers don’t think about how their responses will be taken. They don’t think about the 2nd and 3rd order effects of their content. Emerson didn’t think. He kept engaging. This was a rookie mistake by an amateur writer. One that could have been prevented by putting ego aside, apologizing, and trying to learn.
But that’s not 99.99% of twitter users.
The good news is Emerson eventually deleted all of his tweets about the Rays and their fans. I doubt he will be engaging on Rays issues again anytime soon. If he does, hopefully he will have learned to not jump to ill conclusions.
Closer to home, although slightly less dumb, was this tweet by Tampa Bay Times intern Langston Taylor:
I’m going to guess Mr. Taylor is an Orioles fan. Wherever he came from and whatever he is doing with the Times, this is an ignorant tweet and not funny.
Mr. Taylor needs to understand who his bosses are and who they have corporate ties with. Attempting to make a joke about the size of Tropicana Field is not the right way to win over people who read the Tampa Bay Times. Organizations want a team player, not someone who criticizes local establishments. As a young intern, Mr. Taylor should be seeking out experts and trying to learn about the area in which he is living, not trying to make fun of it.
I don’t think I would fire Mr. Taylor for ill-advised tweets, but I might bring him aside and tell him that his tweets are reflection on himself and also the organization he works for, which is an organization that represents the entire community.
It’s ok not to like Tropicana Field – a lot of people don’t – but critiquing the area by saying their best is not good enough is not a smart tweet.
Twitter will always be a forum for different views. There are trolls and wannabe comics, overly sensitive tweeters, and people who tweet from their emotions. But sometimes it pays to take a moment and think about what you are tweeting, why you are tweeting it, and who you represent by tweeting it.
Lessons Mr. Emerson and Mr. Taylor both need to learn.