Matt Neff: Anti-social media

By |  June 6, 2018 0 Comments

I am not a huge fan of social media. I have a Twitter account, but aside from a few friends and some miscellaneous sports accounts, my feed is almost entirely turf related. At the risk of sounding like the guy who “only reads Playboy for the articles,” I’m basically only on Twitter for the turf information.

While there admittedly are some benefits to social media, it also can be argued that it is the single greatest contributor to the staggering level of societal discord and personal unhappiness currently present in this country. It’s amazing how disrespectful people can be while hiding behind the cloak of a screen name and an IP address.

Social media is the main catalyst for the ridiculous “outrage culture” we now live in. The only thing that many people love more than being offended is spewing their indignation all over the internet in an orgy of virtue signaling that, in the not too distant past, would’ve disgusted even the most self-righteous grandstanders.

Lest anyone think this is intended as a partisan statement, it’s not. There are people on all sides of any issue that seemingly live to do this.

But turf social media was unfailingly different. Along with being a great resource for information, the thing I’ve appreciated about turf social media is the civility of the discussions. Even when people in this business disagreed, they tended to do so respectfully and genuinely were interested in hearing the other side’s reasoning.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always seem to be the case anymore. Respectful discussions are still the norm, so to paraphrase a great man, I guess we got that going for us… which is nice. But it seems there have been more instances of turf guy-on-turf guy Twitter violence over the last year or so than I’ve seen since I started my account five years ago. And there’s simply no reason for it.

The last person who should be second guessing or flat out criticizing a superintendent or assistant’s agronomic and management programs, opinions or ideas in a public forum is a fellow superintendent or assistant. What right does anyone have to do that? If you disagree with what someone else is doing, don’t implement it at your course. If you think someone’s an idiot, quit reading their posts. There’s nothing wrong with respectful questioning, but being overtly critical — or even hostile — does no one any favors.

If someone feels compelled to right the catastrophic wrong that an outside-the-box management practice would unleash on the profession if not for their heroic intervention, they can send an e-mail or a DM and save everyone the annoyance and embarrassment of publicly “correcting” a fellow industry professional.

People in this business use social media to communicate not just with industry peers, but also with their superiors, members/golfers and co-workers. It’s not a huge reach to think that a superintendent could end up in tough spot because of a critical response from others in the industry. I wouldn’t be surprised if this has already occurred, and that’s obviously a less-than-desirable outcome.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the allure social media has in a business like golf course maintenance. A well-known superintendent who also has a huge Twitter following once called it “the water cooler of our industry.” Because we’re isolated on our own courses we don’t have the opportunity to talk shop around the proverbial office water cooler. Social media gives us the chance to do so.

The opportunity to network and share information with other turf professionals worldwide is awesome and can only benefit the industry and the game of golf. I hope we’ll avoid the Thunderdome mentality that seems to be all too common on social media so that the exchange of information and ideas will continue uninhibited.

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