Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

Blackpool v Doncaster Rovers: Social Media Blackout

I learned a new word today. Before I tell you what it is, I would like to remind you that I’m ‘old enough to have had a COVID jab’.

Like many, I have been addicted to social media for many years. Last weekend’s boycott of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by way of protest against online abuse has been quite a revelation.

First of all, whilst I have noticed it has been missing, I’m not sure I would go so far as to say I missed it. Yes, it would have been nice to share photos of my nice walk on Sunday.

Yes, that’s my finger, but it’s still a nice photo, so it’s staying in.

And, yes, the readership on Saturday’s epic final awayday blog has been down because I didn’t share it on Twitter and Facebook at the weekend. Do take a moment to read that now if you missed it. I travel to Northampton dressed as a giant seagull and end up llama trekking in the land of the wild cats. There’s no point me trying to explain here, just follow this handy link. But, did I feel like my right arm was missing? Or did I actually feel somewhat liberated from not feeling I had to scroll and post on social media?

Now back to FOMO – and my realisation that is the reason why I became addicted to social media in the first place. It’s not so much that I need to have the up to date news. I gave up reading news stories months ago – and much of what I do read these days I have little interest in or don’t understand (Line of Duty, anyone? I stopped watching that a season or two back when I realised I didn’t care for any of the characters). No, the reason I have been addicted to social media has been from the fear of online abuse. If someone posts something defamatory about me on there, I wanted to be able to report it or delete it or remove the tag as soon as possible before anyone else saw it. And that’s not right, is it?

And that leads me to question whether that is part of the hook of social media. Do the powers that be want its users to have that fear, to keep them returning to their sites over and over again? And is that why they continue to allow anonymous trolls to spread their poison?

I don’t like being controlled. Never have. I gave up smoking when I realised my addiction was making me uncomfortable in football grounds and on public transport and making me stand outside buildings to ‘enjoy’ a cigarette. I don’t like being at the behest of people who want to control me, either, be they relatives or partners or bosses. I’m in charge of me, thank you very much.

So why should I allow the social media companies to bully me into engaging on a platform where I have to block and mute and unfollow abusive people? It makes no sense to me.

On the other hand, why should I let the abusers win? Why should I fear scrolling through Twitter in case I see something that upsets me? And, believe me, there was a period recently where the joy was sapped from Twitter for me, as I felt sick every time I was scrolling through it. If I want to use social media for good, to engage with good people, should I not feel free and safe to do that? I have met so many wonderful people through social media.

And that is what I missed last weekend. The connection with those people. I wanted to revel in the joy of Blackpool’s win on Saturday with fellow happy Seasiders. I wanted to ask my OU Facebook buddies how to reference an audiobook. I wanted to talk about The Bold Type with an agent I know who it watching it. I wanted to rave about the latest podcast from The Middle Aisle.

So, what is the answer? Well I can’t control the policy of the social media companies. But I can weed my little corner of it. My response is to continue to block/mute/unfollow and report abuse when I encounter it online. I will not engage with abusers. And I don’t need to know what they are saying. They aren’t worth my time or energy. Online or in real life. If you’re abusive, I don’t want you in my life. I want to surround myself with good people – and to become a better person myself. But it’s nice to know that I can take a break from social media and the world won’t come to an end.

Finally, I respond with positivity and joy and smiles. One joyful forum that I am a part of has a little message in the box where you type your comments, that says ‘Say Something Nice…’. And that’s a wonderful little mantra that I wish popped up in everyone’s head before they hit the keyboard. Abuse and nastiness are contagious – but so are smiles and laughter. I know which I would rather leave as my legacy…

Blackpool v Doncaster Rovers

This was our final game in hand. We needed a point from our last two matches to be sure of a play-off spot.

We settled down to do our watchalong in a pretty relaxed frame of mind. We had this in hand, didn’t we? Donny had nothing to play for and had a torrid second half of the season. They’ll be thinking about their summer holidays, like Northampton were.

I was excited to see a Donny player with the surname ‘John-Jules’ and wondered if he was any relation to Danny John-Jules, who played Cat in Red Dwarf. I looked him up and, yes – he’s his nephew. Fun fact.

The match was a treat to watch. We won comfortably, with a brace from the outstanding Ellis Simms, who was promptly substituted (as every player on a hat-trick has been this season).

The ref was whistle-happy and card-happy and Critch also subbed the players who had been booked – including Kevin Stewart, who had only been on for 20 minutes. Is this a thing he has been doing for a while, as a discipline management exercise? Critch is a cautious manager as he learns his trade in League One and you cannot argue that he has been successful from a results perspective. Indeed, if we hadn’t had such a crap start to the season – with defeats and red cards – we would be sitting pretty at the top of the league now (and my bet would be coming in).

Embo and Keshi Anderson also particularly stood out for me tonight. But of course it is the whole team – who work as a unit – that is the key to our success this season. The fact that squad players can slot in anywhere and there is no detriment to performance is a massive bonus for us.

Remember we have no CJ Hamilton, Matty Virtue, Daniel Gretarsson, Grant Ward, Ethan Robson, Sullay Kaikai or Gary Madine – all of whom are out injured. We are only just seeing the return of long-term absentees Marvin Ekpiteta and Anderson. And who knows where Bez Lubala is. And that’s half our squad. Which makes our run of form even more phenomenal.

Here’s us having a jolly time as usual. Lee joins in ‘The Embo Dance’ and gets stuck in fast-forward mode. We are joined by Donny blogger 18 Dapper and former Blackpool striker Keigan Parker as guest summariser.

And here’s a link to the match highlights:

Next up are already-relegated Bristol Rovers for what would be a party atmosphere at Bloomfield Road on Sunday. We’ll be watching along on YouTube as usual. Why not come and join us for an afternoon of joy before the high drama and stress of the play offs in two weeks time. These are exciting times. I have no idea who we are going to face in the play offs or where we are going to finish. But right now we are sitting pretty in third (which is above ‘Premier League’ Sunderland, if you’re reading, Sky Sports) and I’m very proud of these boys. Thank you, Mighty Tangerine Wizards, for bringing us joy.