Floyd Mayweather is a man who has made a living by developing himself into a professional fighting machine and a man who used those skills to beat the mother of his children and intimidate them from finding help as they watched. “Floyd Mayweather is a despicable person we should all aspire to be the opposite of” should not in any way be a controversial statement. But on the internet, everything is controversial. Last night, the Golden State Warriors tweeted this:
@warriors: Welcome to #WarriorsGround, @FloydMayweather! #
I saw several responses that weirdly defended the tweet, such as the following from Sports Illustrated’s DeAntae Prince:
@DeAntae: People get so worked up over Floyd Mayweather. What should the Warriors’ social account do? Not recognize famous people at the game? #
The question itself is dumb, but I think it’s representative of a bigger problem. To answer it, no, the Warriors’ Twitter account does not have to ignore famous people at the games. Nor does it have to acknowledge all of them either, especially with enthusiasm. This is the fast and easy answer to a question nobody asked or cares about including, I suspect, the guy who wrote it.
This guy responded in agreement:
@dancingwithnoah: @DeAntae Yup. To take a different slant, the clamor around him at NBA games wasn’t an issue prior to fight, but now everyone piling on? #
@DeAntae: @dancingwithnoah That’s my thing. I’m not a huge fan of him as a person and his fights are boring. But the group speak is annoying. Floyd has been a bad guy for two decades. But now that he makes $100 million people care. # #
Everyone on Twitter (or Facebook, or comment sections, or anyone posting anything online), regardless of why they’re there, is playing a game. Some care more than others, but everyone is trying to score points in the game by accumulating at least a little bit of positive affirmation as they talk “out loud.” No matter how balanced you are as a person, if what you say does not get shared or starred and doesn’t convince anyone to subscribe to you, then there is no point to saying anything on that platform. Twitter specifically is awash in the corpses of accounts that went dormant for years following a lack of affirmation.
The internet opinion factory is a TV with multiple millions of channels to choose from. To receive the mandatory affirmation, you have to say things no one else is saying. You have to stick out of the impossibly large crowd. Usually this is done by hitting on an angle no one has thought of yet, which in and of itself sounds good. But as topic after topic pours in, trying to find the new angle will often take the form of simply outright defying the apparent consensus, whatever that may be.
In this case, the ideal consensus would be that Mayweather is a blight on society and the fact that he is cheerfully welcomed by a team’s official account is unfortunate. That was indeed the initial majority response, and of course no initial majority response can be tolerated. That would be, as Prince puts it, “group speak.” To distinguish himself, he must find the new angle, which is “I’m not a huge fan of him as a person but you people didn’t hate him before it was cool.” Which, again, is a point that collapses under five seconds of scrutiny. People are going to express their hatred of a monster a lot more when said monster is in the limelight.
The point is so weak that if I asked Prince right now if he thinks the crimes of Mayweather outweigh the public backlash against them in terms of badness, I know he would probably immediately say yes. He’s just trying to rack up points.
In the giant faceless maw of internet opinion sharing, it is easy to blend in. If you are always blending in and can’t even find original ways to express shared thoughts, then you are not worth following. You are not scoring points in the game. Prince knows this, but what he’s missing is that it’s okay to “group speak” against things that are truly horrible, like Floyd Mayweather. We should be thankful that we live in a society where many of us have a zero tolerance policy on domestic abuse. I hate herd mentality as much as anyone, but this is a rare issue that requires no critical thinking as far as angles are concerned. Mayweather is a net loss for the human race because he beats women and is unrepentant about it. Your concern as an opinion provider at that point is not how to find a totally alternative angle but either how to express that obvious sentiment in an unobvious way or to say nothing. Anything else is contrarianism for contrarianism’s sake.