Mixon, Twitter, Rumor and Fact

Mixon, Twitter, Rumor and Fact

Joe Mixon isn’t hurt. Not that we know of, anyway.

There is no indication Mixon, who leads the Big 12 Conference in all-purpose yards, will miss Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State. All we can go on are the facts, told to us by people in the know. And since Oklahoma practices aren’t open, we have to rely and trust the words of the Oklahoma coaching staff.

Mixon isn’t hurt. He’s going to play Saturday.

Unless you look at the Internet. Hard to tell if you get online. Hard to tell if you click  the wrong link. Who knows what to believe. Perhaps because it’s Bedlam Week where the confluence of insults and enjoyment come become joined, but the separation between fact and fiction is a lot closer than the 90 or so miles that separate Stillwater and Norman.
But this year seems different. Maybe it’s the surge in social media ranting, brought on by the Great Election of 2016. There may be a lot of reasons the mean spiritedness is there. Sports has ever been a “safe place,” but everything seems more pointed this year.

From homophobic banners at Oklahoma State to the violent past of Mixon, which has followed him closely, Bedlam has its share of the negative this season – never mind the fact the teams are playing for a Big 12 championship for the second season in a row.

That negativity is disappointing, but somewhat expected. People are passionate about their teams and the way it’s manifested is sometimes aggressive. Totally understandable. What’s not is the irresponsible nature of fans, who disguise themselves as “public servants,” who think they are doing their readers/followers/listeners/etc. a service by promoting information – regardless of truth.

So when a Twitter handle with the name @orangefactor “reports” on a rumor, it’s a combination of irresponsible and lazy. This kind of information becomes toxic, it enrages fans and empowers the uneducated. It’s als
o disappointing because it is masked by ambiguous phrasing like, “Take it for what it’s worth.” That kind of statement means, “If I’m right, give me full credit,” but if I’m wrong, hey, it’s just a rumor. I ne
ver said it was fact.”Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 9.19.24 PM

Twitter brings us immediacy and opinion. It’s great for wit, breaking n
ews and a wonderful addendum to watching sports. It also brings rampant rumor-mongering which is sometimes difficult to differentiate from fact.

More voices means more opinions. More opinions are better for sports and makes a great rivalry like Oklahoma-Oklahoma State even more pungent. More hatred does not. Presenting rumors does not.

News is important. It’s a way to link readers and listeners and Twitter followers to the subjects we care about. All of that is trivialized by a reliance on rumor. If it’s fact, put it out there. If it isn’t, don’t, because ultimately it’s just as bad as hanging up homophobic sign or making light of violence toward women.

And when some or all or any of these things are done in the name of attention, clicks, listeners or viewers, it doesn’t enhance the rivalry, it soils it.

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