The following contains a minor spoiler for The Rise of Skywalker...which isn’t really worth watching anyways.
Last night my wife asked me to watch Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker, a movie that I describe as “good as long as you don’t think about it.” I obliged, but unfortunately I started thinking about the movie and turned to Twitter instead of watching the film disaster on the other side of the living room.
It turns out that this sentiment, “good as long as you don’t think about it,” also holds quite true. As I scrolled, I noticed that my Twitter feed is no longer a well-balanced mix of politics, sports and education. It’s just politics and Jordan vs. LeBron arguments, which has been stale for three or four years now.
My mind drifted to a simpler time when Ryan, Drew and I got into a friendly-ish twitter war with the Kent State mascot. It was like watching a good movie (unlike The Rise of Skywalker) — it provided a jolt of adrenaline and made the day a little more fun.
In contrast, similar arguments related to politics are not so fun. They’re so not fun I’m not going to use an example for fear of turning our comment section into a debate. In fact, watching Sports Center debates on ESPN have a similar feel and production to debates on CNN or FOX. There’s a crossover of style, but the underlying content is drastically different.
But when we argue over our favorite teams, the stakes are lower, and the ensuing banter is quite fun. As much as I “can’t stand” Colin Cowherd, I greatly appreciate that he gives me something trivial to be angry at.
The above variables, combined with Emperor Palpatine electrocuting an entire fleet of spaceships, lead me to tweet the following:
It’s an undeniable fact that Wisconsin is a better football program than Oklahoma. It’s just fact. Sorry.— Bob Wiedenhoeft (@rwiedenhoeft) May 23, 2020
Okay, I’m not going to say that this is actually some sort of expert troll-job. In fact, I wasn’t really trying to incite fan rage — I didn’t tag anything, and I usually don’t get a lot of attention on Twitter, which I’m perfectly happy with. Why did I choose Oklahoma? It was the first good non-B1G team I thought of. That’s it.
Anyways, I went to bed, worked on dry-walling my bathroom this morning, and then checked my phone.
And yep, I got ratio’d to death (currently like 85 replies to nine likes), which was definitely deserved.
The point of this post is not to complain about how I got roasted by Sooners fans. Most just laughed, provided strong facts against my “thesis,” and called me an idiot. I was called a clown, which is pretty cool. Some even complemented us on our cheese. Very few used ableist language, and that’s honestly not representative of Oklahoma’s fandom. In fact, I had a lovely interaction with one Sooner fan who shared this tidbit of school history:
At One point the President of OU at the time Dr. George Lynn Cross said He wanted to "build a University that the Football team could be proud of. "— Billy (@TxBornSooner) May 23, 2020
Mind you he was kidding but the fact that he'd even say it... Wow.
Oh, and they’re kind enough to acknowledge the 1942 Helms Athletic Foundation national championship.
I appreciate you acknowledge that national championship! Most people don’t— Bob Wiedenhoeft (@rwiedenhoeft) May 23, 2020
We’re going to ignore that Oklahoma hasn’t won any B1G championships ever, but that’s not the point of this post.
In some sense, I provided a small service for the Sooner Twitter fan base, giving it a target to collectively jump on. Yes, it’s more fun for me to troll, but it’s also fun for them to all pick off a wounded antelope.
The allure and danger of trolling
I’ve been on the other side of the troll, and that’s a lot of fun, but being the troll is way more fun. I still feel some energy from getting called an idiot — and because my original take was inauthentic, I don’t feel personally targeted. All reward, no risk.
Well, not at no risk, as I had to relive the fact that Melvin Gordon’s rushing record only stood for one week:
At least Melvin Gordon had the rushing game record...for a week! pic.twitter.com/Jo2geekgvg— Ryan Murphy (@thenameisroy) May 23, 2020
I believe this is how trolls are born. For the most part, nobody wakes up thinking, “I want to infuriate a whole group of people for fun.” An innocent off-the-wall take gathers a lot of attention, and the chemicals released in the brain create positive reinforcement. The newborn troll tries it again, sees similar results, and before long we have a fully grown troll.
Heck, I already have the desire to do the same thing to Florida or something; I can get all sorts of enjoyment with barely any effort of personal risk.
The problem with the troll, however, is selfishness. Sure, I could avoid risk by trolling the Sooners further, but I’ve already done some small damage to our collective identity as Badgers fans. There are probably Sooners fans who have never met any of us and now think we’re all arrogant jerks.
Further, while the volume of ableist comments was low, and the bigoted comments are 100% the responsibility of the tweet author, I did give them a platform. Even more, my tweet provided nothing of value to justify such platforming. Because of my trolling, I allowed a few people to normalize hateful language, even if its impact on normalizing hate is relatively small.
Is Wisconsin football better than Oklahoma?
I’m sure I could cherry-pick a few metrics that demonstrate that Wisconsin is a better program, but on the whole, Oklahoma clearly has more consistent success. I would argue that there are several season that Wisconsin could have beaten Oklahoma, and I would have much preferred a 2020 bowl game against the Sooners than the Ducks.
Oh, what the hell...
YES WISCONSIN IS FREAKING BETTER COME DEBATE ME YOU COWARDS I WANT THE TWITTER CLOUTTTTTTTTT
(Just kidding — but The Rise of Skywalker is indeed awful)