There’s an odd chasm forming among Buffalo Bills fans as we try to negotiate our way through another season of heartache and disappointment. On the one hand, we are recognized nationally as a fan base whose generosity is well documented, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities like the Andy Dalton Foundation, and more recently to the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation in Chicago after NBCSports Chicago recently referred to the Bills (and their fans) as the “laughingstock of the NFL”.
Yea, we’re pretty cool for doing good things.
On the other hand, you wouldn’t recognize this same fan base if you peruse posts by Bills fans communicating with one another on social media. I’m beginning to think the kindness we extend to the outside world is a farce, because the way we treat one another has become downright despicable at times.
Floundering football teams bring out the worst in a fan base, to be sure. Being called names because you don’t hold the same opinion as someone else is bad enough. However, this season the atmosphere on social media seems to have devolved into outright bullying and worse. I see evidence of people literally intent to destroy another person’s self esteem on my Twitter timeline on a regular basis.
I get that it’s hard to be a Bills fan. I’ve been through the entire run of this frustrating franchise and seen it all. But I have never seen the kind of vitriol I see daily on social media sites. It’s clearly a reflection of the deep divide in our nation as a whole and the overall acceptance of behavior like Pete Davidson on Saturday Night Live insulting a veteran illustrates how mean-spirited we have become as a society.
The attacks on each other need to stop. Having had the privilege of living an adult life before the age of the Internet, it affords a different perspective about how we functioned as a society before the age of social media. I’m not here to wax poetic about how great things were in the 1960s (they were and they weren’t). People were every bit as rotten to one another.
However, the effectiveness of mean-spirited behavior is magnified ten-fold when a Bills fan in Australia can witness a fan in Kansas get belittled for everything BUT their fan-hood – live – as the fan-on-fan crime unfolds. It’s compelling drama and can become more addictive than any television soap-opera.
Somehow it seems we’ve lost the realization that what we exchange on social media is somehow not real because it’s just the Internet. Pete Davidson is just doing comedy even though nothing he said in that particular skit referenced earlier is even remotely “funny”. To each their own, I suppose.
I’ve never been known to hide my feelings about certain subjects that compel me to ‘speak’ my mind. This post has been a long time in coming to fruition as I enter my 10th year as an active participant on Twitter. The bullying and frankly sad behavior amps up as the Bills play one horrendous game after another. It makes us cranky and we take it out on each other. That is anything but cool and strikes me as hypocritical, given the image we try to portray to the outside world.
The details don’t matter. I won’t dignify examples of awful behavior on Twitter by showing tweets as examples. You know who you are. The tweets range from creating fake news about Bills fans dumping food on Nathan Peterman and his wife to much worse.
The Bills have confirmed to me that the tweet that’s made its rounds the past few days claiming food was thrown at Nathan Peterman and his wife after the game Sunday while they were out to dinner is not true.
— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) November 7, 2018
The bottom line is I’m stepping up to the plate and asking anyone who reads this to start treating each other with more kindness and compassion. Many of us on social media haven’t even met in person, yet feel compelled to trash someone for heaven only knows what reason.
All I ask is that people remember that the person you’re communicating with might have less than 24 hours to live. Anyone of us walking and talking today might not have a tomorrow. The Bills stink again and by now we should all be given our expert badge on loving a horrible football team.
But that shouldn’t empower us to take out our frustration with mean-spirited behavior toward one another, regardless if it seems to be sanctioned and encouraged by broadcast media, locally and nationally.
We can and should be better than this.
The views expressed here belong solely to the author and may or may not reflect the opinion of the owners of the billsmafia.com website.