Do We Read Too Much Into Social Media?

Sometimes we can read too much into what goes on on social media. We’ve all been there. Is that Facebook post from an acquaintance trying to subliminally say something? Is your girlfriend using code with someone on Twitter? Is your favorite sports team hinting at something on Instagram? These people know this as well and sometimes they manipulate this to make you worry about something you shouldn’t need to or to force the desired result. It just underscores how we need to take a break from social media and take a breath of fresh air.

At Nicely Done Sites we do not know what is going on in your personal life so we’ll stick to a subject that a lot of people follow and are very passionate about: Sports. The modern generation of athletes are using or trying to use social media to their advantage, whether it is to reach their fans, to get a better situation for themselves or to get signed by a new team. This recent winter has seen this mania go to a new level as some of the country’s best athletes every post or movement on social media are scrutinized.

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown, then a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is one of the NFL’s premier players. Unfortunately for the Steelers he did not seem to want to stay in Pittsburgh despite being drafted by them, developing a great repore with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and gaining national prominence with them. His desire to be either cut or traded has been made clear following the end of the season and Steeler Nation was waiting with baited breath to find out what happens.

Even before the season ended Brown took to social media and liked the pages of the San Francisco 49ers. He has had several exchanges with 49er players and former 49er great Jerry Rice, which was also published on social media. Steeler Nation was certainly disappointed but following the debacle with Le’Veon Bell they may be ready to move on and not have another year in which they lead the league in drama. Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders after allegedly sabotaging another deal to the Buffalo Bills and the news was broken by Brown himself on his Instagram account with a picture of himself in a Raider uniform ending all speculation.

Football is of course not the only sport affected by stars using social media. This offseason with baseball had the chance to be one of the greatest in the sport’s history with the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper and Los Angeles Dodgers’ Manny Machado eligible for free agency for the first time. Both are young and entering their prime years due to being teenage phenoms and both are already highly decorated. Harper was the National League MVP in 2015 and is a 6-time All Star while Machado is a 4-time All Star.

Bryce Harper

Nationals fans were holding their breath everytime news or rumors of Harper make it into the news. Not only did they want to retain their superstar, who they drafted and developed, but they especially do not want to see him go to a division rival like the Philadelphia Phillies. Just before what was his final game as a National Harper posted a mosaic on Instagram thanking the Nationals fans. DC was immediately abuzz. What did it mean? Was he intent on moving on or was he just doing his due diligence and not shafting the fans? Media in Philadelphia picked up on this and took it as a sign that Harper was not only leaving DC but coming to Philly.

Every twist and turn in the saga led to someone in the Philadelphia media saying his signing was imminent and every time nothing happened. The emotional levels of the two fanbases went up and down as other teams like the San Francisco Giants or Los Angeles Dodgers entered or reentered into the bidding for his services.

Harper’s saga drug on and on but little seemed to be revealed other than what Harper’s agent Scott Boras wanted to and that revolved around teams involved and the length of the contract offered. Social media made it possible for the band Smash Mouth to break news indicating that their favorite team, the Giants, wanted to make a better offer. This news was confirmed by a real baseball reporter the next day prompting speculation that Harper would sign with the Giants, which came to an end when Harper ultimately signed with the Phillies.

Manny Machado

Machado will not be playing with the team he started the 2018 season with. He was drafted and developed by the Baltimore Orioles who, recognizing the impossibility of resigning him, traded him in mid-season to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Machado made a social media firestorm before being traded by liking a an Instagram post of himself in a New York Yankees’ uniform. While he was not traded to the Bronx Bombers there was very real speculation that he would don the pinstripes for his next contract. That belief was intensified when he briefly followed the Yankees’ YES Network on Instagram at the end of 2018. He also follows several Yankees players on the platform as well.

Like Harper, Machado took to Instagram to thank the Dodger fans before the season ended leading to much of the same speculation there (though the Dodgers have never appeared to be intent on bringing him back as they acquired him because their player went down with an injury). Oriole fans certainly did not relish the thought of having to face Machado in a Yankees uniform for at least the next seven years. Machado (who only played a little over half a season with the Orioles) lead the team in batting average, home run and RBIs and with the Orioles set to be beginning a rebuild he joins a long list of former Orioles who have departed to the Bronx. For many Oriole fans he was the only reason to head down to Camden Yards during the 2018 season.

Like with Harper the baseball world dissected any news of him to try to determine his intentions. For many the Yankees were the clear cut destination but other teams like the Chicago White Sox and the San Diego Padres made their pitches but were never seen as viable contenders for his services, such is the power that the Yankees seem to exude. The speculation continued until Machado signed with the Padres. Guess you can’t beat the weather there?

Is this all just something designed to keep a person’s name in the news during a long offseason or to keep someone relevant as a regular season turns to a post season? The hot stove speculation will always abound, especially with the elites of the game and the fans of their teams will hang with every post to try to read between the lines. Like with everything social media is the new game and for these players it is a game within a game. Both them and their agents are getting very good at it and they will use it to manipulate fans and teams alike.

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