If there's one thing I'm truly thankful in my life, it's that Twitter didn't exist when I was a teenager. Not to carbon date myself or anything, but back in my day, you had to take to a "blog" to voice the ludicrously crude and asinine opinions which typically befall a teenager. That was quite the task compared to what it takes for today's teen to instantly publish their opinions to the world.
I can only imagine what linguistic monstrosities my stream-of-conscious would have construed on Twitter back when I was still learning very basic things about the way the world works. I probably would have a black bag over my head for 23 hours a day in Guantanamo Bay right now.
That isn't to say I've figured the world out now, I haven't, but I think most people would concede they're more knowledgeable about the world's workings presently than they were as a teenager. Granted, I don't know half as much now as I thought I did when I was a teenager, but I feel this change is inevitable. Some people call call this process "maturity", others call it "personal growth" and others yet might call it "an inevitable process due to time."
That's why, when confronted with cases like the extraordinary adventures and musings of Will Hill, I take a time to not only laugh, but to also reflect on some of the things I've learned about life since I was in Will Hill's shoes. Not that I was ever really in Will Hill's shoes (my version of the picture to the right would probably have included two pock-marked hookers) but I wouldn't presently put my name on a lot of actions, let alone opinions, that made up my teenage years.
The trouble for today's youth, is the fact we now live in an era where your stream-of-conscious opinions can be instantly shared with the world via Twitter, a potential problem compounded by the proliferation of smartphones. Given that teenagers have been saying dumb things for centuries, I feel it shouldn't surprise anybody when the obtuse and unrefined thinking processes of today's youth comes in the form of an 140-character tweet. It was inevitable, after all.
So naturally, as somebody who wishes Michigan spends an eternity with players like Jordan Kovacs, I chuckled to myself as I saw news of Brady Hoke crumpling up his scholarship offer to four-star cornerback Yuri Wright over the content of some of his tweets. Hoke's train-of-thought was as obvious. He chose to an arbitrary (but convenient) opportunity to grand-stand on the issues of "No man being above the ideas of Michigan" and "character above talent" as if he were simultaneously applying Yuri Wright's standards to every recruit or player under his command. (It's the classic pop psychology bullshit I've come to love about the man already.)
Granted, he's got the whole "Michigan Unicorn-Man" myth to perpetuate, but he probably wouldn't have a very good team if he applied Yuri Wright's requirements to every incoming recruit. (Neither would any other coach for that matter, and they all know it, which is why I suspect so many of them handpick the players which interact with the media.)
Yet, some folks continue to be fascinated by the simplest concepts. Kids say the darndest things. I thought this was a universal truth since God ordained a TV show hosted by Bill Cosby under the same name. Well, thanks to some people apparently willing to troll through thousands of Tweets by teenagers, an impressive feet of mental fortitude/masochism in its own right, ChatSports.com has used the tweets of incoming Michigan recruits to "expose" the already obvious hypocrisy. And guess what? Yuri Wright wasn't the only highly-touted prospect talking crudely or borderline-offensively on the internet.
Oh, and Michigan is just the first stop in a 7-stop tour "exposing" the likes of Notre Dame, LSU, Oregon, Ohio State, and Alabama. (I bet the writer of the article blindfolded himself before throwing darts at a map of the continental United States to choose his targets.)
I was laughing until I realize they were actually serious about this.
In all honesty, I'd first like to stand up and applaud "ChatSports.com." They definitely won this round. Their article appeared multiple times in my timeline today, they got me to click their link and they got me to link to their article. That was probably the entire game-plan for whoever is behind ChatSports.com. (And really, that's all it about for most sites these days.) If they came at this in a comedic way, I wouldn't have a problem with it. Instead, it's adults (physically, if nothing else) stalking 18 year-olds on the internet and then hanging them with their own words on a forum where the kids usually don't have a chance to defend themselves or offer explanation, context or apology.
I guess this is what happens when Charles Robinson gets away with using the cooked books of a convicted felon to get a bunch of kids in trouble, and people consider it "investigative journalism." The ground-breaking results of Robinson's Herculean efforts? Financially insecure kids will take money and gifts from rich people who are offering it to them for free. With ChatSports.com, the resulting thesis of their labors seems to be, "highly touted teenage recruits speak crudely, especially when provoked, and they may also think too highly of themselves."
I'm not sure why they had to stalk high school kids on the internet to learn this piece of information. You shouldn't need to drag teenagers through the mud (while making money off doing so) to know Brady Hoke was being hypocritical in his dealings with Yuri Wright. Really, this is the perfect anecdote to go after the hypocrisy the NCAA and its "student-athlete" fabrication are built on, but I guess articles like that don't garner as many clicks as cynical uses of a young black man making an off-color joke about society's views on his dating of a white woman since the Martin Luther King Jr. Days. (Never mind that the crux of the joke was true, I guess.)
For example, and I know this will shock a lot of readers, but teenagers are fond of use of the word "fag." I know this, because once upon a time, I used to also fancy the word "fag." Not because I inherently hated homosexuals, but because it was simply a word which was used when I grew up. It's a word which was so ingrained in my vocabulary, it still slips today from my tongue in moments of frustration, even though I know it's wrong. I'm not proud of it because it was as wrong then as it is now, but I had yet to learn the ramifications of using the word.
That's why somebody like Ondre Pipkins using the word "fag" isn't inherently offensive to me. To breach that line, Ondre Pipkins would at least need to be using the slur while advocating violence against homosexuals. To me, it's more tragic that a five-star athlete got this far in life without an adult who actually cared about him corralling the behavior or teaching him about the eyes in the forest which are always watching.
But hey, why teach lessons to our nation's youth when you can "expose" them? That way, the lesson learned is "don't say vapid shit on the internet" rather than "why you shouldn't use the word 'fag' as a slur." Why fix the hole in the drywall when you can just hang a picture over it?
That's why I laughed at Brady Hoke's grandstanding with Yuri Wright. It was never about Yuri Wright actually saying those things, because if they were, then Brady Hoke would be losing a lot of stars from his recruiting class. He was never prepared to do that, which is why he made the statement without going through other recruits' social media lives (or having done so before he recruited them.) Instead, Brady Hoke used the media-generated opportunity to posture with Michigan Morality.
But to take the ruminations of an 18 year-old, especially from a venue like Twitter, to garner page views and notoriety for your own personal gain while pasing it off an an "exposé" is as callous as it is pathetic; and if somebody is willing to be the parasites feeding off the sewage by-product created by the monetized college recruiting and talent development process in elite college athletics, then they're the ones who have to figure out how to sleep at night.
On March 6th, ChatSports is set to "expose" Ohio State. I have a hankering it will feature tweets about women, sex with women, mind-altering substances, probably the use of the word "fag" and a modern interpretation on a word used to slur black people. They will be, all hype and Buckeye leafs stripped from them, teenagers piping off dumb things on the internet. In other words, it will be just another day on the internet. I don't think it's something to sound the Beacon of Morality over. Besides, aren't there bigger moral scoundrels to chase and to shame?
It's darkly humorous to observe how much delight some internet typers take in "exposing" and throwing stones at 18-year old kids over things which have been going on since the beginning of recorded human history. I'm not going to throw any stones because, if nothing else, I understand some of the trappings of youth. Hopefully when these kids mature, and most of them certainly will, they will have not only learned it's wrong to degrade women or use the word "fag" on Twitter because anonymous people might shame you on the internet, but also because they truly came to understand some of the wrongs they were willingly perpetuating.
By that time, maybe society will also get lucky, and some of the actual adults involved will grow up with them.