By Tony Attwood
Rudeness is part of human behaviour. It is part of life, although since the invention of the Internet it seems to have become more prevalent.
Football fans have always been rude about other teams’ players, their own teams’ players, their manager, everyone else’s manager, the supporters of other clubs and so on. It’s just part of the behaviour surrounding football for some reason. Part of being in a crowd I guess.
But for people who by and large don’t go in for excessive or extreme abusive behaviour, there is a rather interest thought to hold in mind.
Psychologists mostly agree that rudeness damages one’s ability to think and harms one’s mental health. The ability to focus and the clarity of decision making is cut short, because rudeness is a short cut which takes out discussion and debate. You don’t have to put together a logical argument to be rude. You can just do it. Do it enough and it becomes a habit and the ability to consider logical debate goes out the window.
For people who are always rude, logical analysis becomes completely impossible.
Rudeness, abuse etc just becomes part of the brain’s central process, intelligence and intellect is swept aside and being abusive is all that is left. Being rude rather than joining in a debate is a neurotic lifestyle that a lot of people seem to engage in – and when they do they can’t escape.
The alternative of course is to sprinkle one’s commentary with evidence. So you can say Giroud is a moron and should not be playing for Arsenal. That’s just abuse. Or you might say, “let’s look at the evidence. Giroud is played in order to score goals. He has played 15 games in all competitions this season and scored seven.” Then base your next statement on that evidence.
To me, evidence based debate is what I’ve always wanted on this site. Of course supporting a team is an utterly emotional affair – I support Arsenal and it would take something pretty huge to stop me doing so. I’m Arsenal, my parents were, my grandparents were, I grew up a few miles from the ground… that’s it. But still I like to find some evidence to support my view that Wenger knows what he is doing, and has delivered something incredibly important – a magnificent new stadium while keeping the team near the top.
The response to this that “coming fourth isn’t a trophy” is just a statement which doesn’t help the conversation along. Of itself it is not abuse, but it is akin to it, if that’s all that is said in reply to a crafted argument, it gets close to being abuse.
Of course I’m not sure how I’d have felt if I had to live through another collapse of the type we had in for example 1993 to 1995 (10th, 4th, 12th). Or during the dark days of Mee in 1974/6 (10th, 16th, 17th). Or even worse 1960/66 when I started watching the club (13th, 11th, 10, 7th, 8th, 13th, 14th).
What I have become abusive if Wenger had failed and he and his successors had delivered another era like those dark days? Maybe, but hopefully I would still have done it with some evidence to back up my points.
By there’s far more to the issue of rudeness than just feeling nice or being a reasonable person, presenting points with a smattering of logic and/or evidence. Rudeness ends friendships rather than creates them, and leads to isolation. In really serious situations it can lead to catastrophic errors – because if someone is rude to you, you are much more liable to make a mistake afterwards. It’s outcome is always negative.
And sometimes it can be very negative. In studies of work in operating theatres in hospitals, where a surgeon is rude about one of the other people in the team, the team’s performance is severely hindered. People can literally die as a result of rudeness.
This negative effect of being rude is everywhere. Be rude to waiters and you get a worse service. Be rude to people around you, and you get fewer friends. Be rude to people serving you in a shop, and you get worse service and they probably up the bill and don’t welcome you back again.
People who fail to read the rules of engagement on a site are themselves being simplistically rude on the internet, as in Colesy’s recent comment that, “Wenger is past it and his stubbornness and lack of ideas will prevail with the team missing out on the league-again.” We have no argument presented to back up this point of view, although many of us would think it is wrong. What makes the statement abusive is that it has no evidence base. It just says the writer is wrong, and listening to someone put forward an argument (no matter how poorly argued) and then saying “This is wrong” without giving any evidence, is at the very least boorish, and is generally very rude.
Of course it is not just football that gathers rudeness. One of the dance clubs that I used to go to (but don’t any more because I got fed up with the people there) had a Facebook post today in which there were complaints about the rudeness of dancers (mostly middle aged) when speaking to the DJ and asking for particular dance tracks to be played. It happens anywhere. Like a five year old, if people don’t get what they want immediately they want it, they get abusive.
But football and the internet seem to attract a particular kind of rudeness. Take for example the time when people write comments with no evidence or which are just plain rude, and then when they don’t get published here, write abusively to the publisher or editor or writer, accusing him of all sorts of things because he didn’t publish the original rude comment!
It is as if I came and stood outside your house, threw a brick through the window, shouted abuse and then complained when you don’t ask me in for a cosy chat.
Since I started Untold I have been bemused by the level of abuse I’ve received. I expected some, but not so much and not at this level. But then I suppose I underestimated the number of rather silly people around.
- 1 November 1983: Tony Adams first team debut in a testimonial v Chelsea. He had signed as a schoolboy in 1980.
- 1 November 1997: Derby 3 Arsenal 0, Wright missed a penalty, as Arsenal slipped to their second defeat of the season. 13th league game of the 2nd Double Season The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
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