I did something today that I haven’t done around here in well more than a year, something I’ve only done a couple of times over my years on this site. I threw a flag. Two, actually.
I rarely do this, even when tempted. I have no desire to shut down ongoing conversations, even when they are clearly going nowhere, even when someone gets borderline offensive, even when somebody is obviously trying to start something. As long as it stays clean, as it were, or just up to the line of offensive, I’ll ignore it and move on. There’s too much good stuff on here, and too many people who I delight in seeing in the threads to get too worked up over a few odds and ends that annoy me.
But sometimes things go beyond annoyance, and the past few days have brought up a question that periodically nags at me on our threads: What’s the point?
I honestly don’t get it.
I certainly understand White Sox fan frustration. I’m frustrated on a regular basis. I’m frustrated with the owner. I’m frustrated with the front office. Hell, I’m frustrated with their decision to stop letting me print my tickets at home, making me have to either will-call or download some stupid app to go to a game. I’m frustrated when players make bad plays, swing at bad pitches, or aren’t as good as I want them to be. I understand frustration.
What I don’t understand is the need to go to the trouble of joining an online community and spending time repeatedly carrying on about a team and its players that you, by all appearances in comment threads, despise. I don’t understand why someone would spend precious moments or hours of their life haranguing the same people and events over and over and over again. I don’t understand why someone would have such hatred and bile to spew about an organization, a team, and individual players that they feel some compulsion to endlessly carp and carry on to a bunch of strangers on the internet, most of whom clearly wish you would stop or go somewhere else to pontificate.
What’s the point?
Perhaps I’m old-fashioned or naïve, and don’t get the psychological release trolling may provide. When I hate or disdain something, I try to disengage with it, avoid it, move on to something I like and appreciate. When something brings me nothing but anger and bile, I try to cut it out of my life. If an interest or hobby incite such negativity in me that all can do is seethe, it’s well past time to go find another interest or hobby. Life’s too short — or at least mine, certainly well more than halfway over, is.
When some aspect of my life is disappointing, I take solace in my wife, my children, my grandchildren, other people and things I love. Baseball is one of those things I love, even when it frustrates me. The White Sox are something I love, even when they frustrate me. When they disappoint me, it’s a little on them, but mostly on me. I’m the one who chooses to follow and root for them. They don’t force me to turn on my TV or open up Game Day or click on SSS. That’s up to me. At the point they start bringing me more pain than happiness, it’s on me to turn away and go find/do/read/care about something else.
So again, what’s the point? What’s the payoff? What is it these folks get out of posting repeated, relentless negativity? Why log on to a site dedicated to a team you seem to despise and repeatedly engage with people you know are annoyed by it?
But mostly, what’s the point of following the White Sox at all? They appear to bring nothing but frustration, pain, anger and resentment.
Again, I’m not talking to the bulk of us here. We all get angry and frustrated at times. Watching a team we care about struggle gets to all of us at one time or another, and sometimes we express that in the threads. Of course we do, that’s part of what they’re there for.
But for the bulk of us, the team also brings happiness and a certain joy to our lives. And we express that in the threads, too. And even on bad days, there is more happiness and optimism than anger. In part because we have developed a communal sense of humor and, in bigger part, because we recognize that, silly though it is in the scheme of things, it’s all in the baggage of being a baseball fan. When even the best of the best fail to get on base six out of ten times, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. We all get that. And we move on, pleased to see and comment about a young guy in Double-A having a good week. In short, we remain hopeful, even if we too often mask it behind cynicism or snark.
But what’s the point if all any of it brings you is the desire to vent, to browbeat, to tear down, to poke in the ashes and bang, once again, on the carcass of the dead horse?
While it may seem otherwise, I am genuinely curious, because I’m baffled and don’t like being baffled. What, exactly, is the point?