Recently, a group of baseball fans on a fervent Major League Baseball comment board, presumably anonymous with usernames such as “translamfnljujment78” and “61tatorhater”, or most likely in search of increased serotonin levels, summoned another effort to orchestrate derogatory groupthink. At least those who are aware of the ominous forces at work.
The process is a simple, yet powerful tool to practice the spread of propaganda and despicable shaming tactics, while ostracizing contrary opinions in kidnapping the opinions of sports junky end users in an anti-democratic rehearsal with serious connotations on the future of free speech. In the case of the baseball aficionados, the string of conversation involved the debating the merit and effectiveness of sabermetrics and other statistical analysis methods of “modernizing” the game. Disappointingly, the dialogue regressed to a pissing contest of shouting down those skeptical of active modeling with all the subtlety of a brainwashed cadre employing snark and character assassination to fabricate a status quo, while isolating the opposition.
While message boards exist as some of the most ancient facets of the digital community construct, amidst the dominating presence of social media platforms, the technology is still valuable and resonates with millennials and up. The phrase, “I came for the comments,” is still virulently applicable, and the adversaries of the basic freedoms are well-aware that appealing to digital egos is an effective loophole to incite a vast group of individuals though carefully placed responses and barbs in preparing for a widespread campaign based in politics and not sports. As the crucial midterm elections loom, divisive content will be distributed across multiple channels, and with actors in place, the maelstrom spanning the electronic spectrum should be an epic display of the extensions of individuals through remote means sparring savagely.
The grooming process and reeducating sports fans includes all the flair of a middle-aged man selling candy out of his bubble window desert motif van parked across the street from an elementary school. Account holders representing a collection of the sports sites are immersed and emotionally invested in the apparent series of posts through the capture of the visceral and imagination. The impressionable combination breeds loyalty and credence to the digital discussion, and what point the frontal cortex is transformed to a pliable material for the radical societal engineers to mold. Users are drawn to the controversy and drama surrounding a baseball game thread, or a lively postgame rant. Within an ecosystem where accountability is not present and even shunned by the more pathological of the “regulars” populating the message boards like guileless trolls and self-proclaimed intellectuals. This insufferable reality allows those attempting to forward a deplorable agenda the golden opportunity to recruit allies, while destroying adversaries. The fact that many of the individuals intoxicated by weighing the dynamics of whether or not a batter should swing away or bunt against the shift online holds as much credence in as an in person discussion, illustrates deftly, the risks presented by the gig economy and instant validation towards the degradation of free speech.
One of the main glaring issues in the digital dream world of interaction, is the prevalence of naivety in a total failure to recognize the distinction between the subjective and the objective and differentiating opinion from fact. Unfortunately, outlandish claims shared through groupthink take precedence over reason, and any statement that does not appease the core beliefs of the community is stigmatized and ultimately neutralized through peer pressure. The disturbing phenomenon creates a fervid training ground in perfecting dissension, and the apt gateway drug to overtaking e-discussions on more serious topics such as politics. When online reputation is valued more than the truth, two plus two can equal negative fun or whatever the hierarchy dictates to be reality, and society is on the losing end of a arduous mental battle.
The formula for discontent is eloquent and effective, as end users are encouraged to adopt a pack mentality in going on the full attack towards an individual with a dissenting opinion. Similar to the ugly strategies applied by countercultural rioters in clouding political issues and disagreements by instigating public duress, provoking anger or worse is at the vortex of creating a disturbance within an online platform that is otherwise reserved for sports or entertainment.
With the younger generations enamored with retro technologies and the obstinate middle age groups unwilling to capitulate, the relic of message board source code is still alive and well in an environment bordering dizzying technological advances. While digital sports discussions are seemingly benign, the questionable motives of reactionaries behind the scenes are poorly disguised within an avenue calibrated to intrigue, incite and indoctrinate.