Those of you how pay attention to Twitter (and plenty of you who don’t) possibly have paid attention by now to the squabble that emerged after the latest effort by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt to get people to pay attention to him.
As the U.S. Men’s National Team prepared to face Argentina in the Copa America on Tuesday, Watt tweeted a photo of himself in a soccer jersey roughly 10 sizes too small, shoulders pulled back and chest thrust outward, with this caption: “Kit is a bit snug, but ready if called upon.”
It was the kind of circumstance that falls within the confines of an article I wrote in April, regarding Watt’s overall view on social media. In a nutshell, his position is: “Look at me, unless you don’t like what you see. If that’s the case, what are you looking at?”
When guys who are seeking attention get attention, they shouldn’t complain about the attention they’re getting. Which is why I tweeted this in response to Watt’s latest look-at-me-what-you-lookin’-at photo: “Why does everyone always want to talk about me? I’m just minding my own business and seeking no attention at all.”
Said Watt in response: “[Y]ou do know how Twitter works, right? If you don’t want to see it, stay off my page. Take your saltiness elsewhere.”
Here’s how Twitter works. People post messages, photos, etc., and anyone who follows that account will see it. Some of them will “retweet” the message, so that anyone who follows the retweeting account will see it, too. That’s what happened here; Watt tweeted it, the Texans retweeted it, I saw it, and I reacted to it.
Watt’s not objecting to the fact that I saw his latest attempt to make a given topic all about him, while also showing off his pecs, delts, lats, abs, bis, and/or tris to the world. He’s objecting to the fact that I reacted to it in a way he didn’t like. And that’s where he continues to be deliberately obtuse about social media.
It’s not a one-way slide show blasted into the eyeballs of a Clockwork Orange audience. It’s an interactive process, and anything you post can (and often will) be used against you.
“I think we have social media and people want to see access, they want to know what you’re doing, they want day-to-day, what’s going on in his life?” Watt said in April. “Then every single thing you do becomes a story, whether it’s a tweet, whether it’s an Instagram post, whether it’s a Snapchat, every single thing becomes a story so I think if people don’t want to see what I’m doing they should probably stop following me.”
He’s basically (and clumsily) looking for an exemption from any and all criticism for what he posts. And that would be a great thing to have. I’ve said plenty of arguably (and actually) dumb things on Twitter over the years. Would I have preferred that those who justifiably criticized me had simply not looked at what I said? Hell yes.
But Twitter isn’t a private photo album or scrapbook that only friends and family and fans can access. Unless the account is protected, anyone can see it. For Watt, who has 2.13 million followers, posting a photo on Twitter is roughly the same thing as taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times. Then, as the copies of the Times get passed around to people who didn’t buy it (which is the newspaper equivalent of retweeting), more and more people will see it. They possibly will then react to it, via the equivalent of a letter to the editor that is instantly published for anyone with a Twitter account to see.
Watt doesn’t want that. He wants only the praise, and none of the criticism, for anything and everything he says and does on Twitter and other social media. And if he doesn’t want people to react negatively or skeptically to what he’s doing, he probably should stop using social media.
[Photo credit: Twitter.com/JJWatt]