Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Spurious transfer news + a digital graveyard


It’s fairly quiet in terms of Arsenal news. There’s a week to go before transfer deadline day, and nothing much is stirring. I’ve seen a tenuous link with a move for Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters, who unfortunately suffers from a naming issue that I would find difficult to get beyond.

Imagine us trying to sign a John Terry-Williams or Joey Barton-Michaels. You’d never be able to get the truly evil one out of your head, would you? I suppose a condition of the deal could be a name change. We’ll give you a nice bonus to legally take on a different moniker, such as:

  • Randolph Ledger
  • Manfred Cutlass
  • Quincy LeMans
  • Ed Salamander
  • Bob Gandalf
  • Carlos Staples
  • Barnaby Stingwing JR

The possibilities are endless, although Arsenal fans involved in the solar power industry might be a bit sad they can’t get a shirt with KWP on the back. I can’t tell you if the reported interest is real or not. I’d be surprised, although he can play in both full back positions, so he ticks the ‘versatile’ box previously mentioned. Let’s see. I won’t be fully convinced until he holds up his shirt with ‘Steve Concrete’ on the back of it.

Beyond that, not a lot going on as the players are enjoying their days off, sunning themselves at home and so on.

One thing I did want to talk a little bit about recently was Twitter, or what’s left of it. You can’t do what we do on Arseblog without it, and it’s been a big part of the football media landscape for such a long time now. However, as time has gone on, it’s fair to say the social element of this social network has become significantly impacted, not least by fairly recent changes made by the (relatively) new owner.

Which isn’t to say it was a utopian landscape of intelligent, reasoned discourse beforehand. Far from it, but almost everything that has happened under his watch has made things worse. Personally, I never experienced any kind of problems with bots. Now, whenever a post goes up on Twitter, the first replies are always this kind of stuff:

In addition to that, there is almost always a young lady, who is definitely not a real young lady, peddling some kind of porn. Bots. Bots. Bots.

Then there are the blue ticks. Is every single person who pays for Twitter a bad person so desperate for attention and engagement that they are willing to pay money to get their replies promoted by an algorithm? No. That’s not fair.

Are many of them? Yes. So much so that every reply to every Tweet has these people at the very top, whether it’s football or anything else, and while I understand there are some who feel they need to pay because they have built their livelihoods on Twitter, I’m simply not interested in the opinions of most of those who are paying $8 a month to prop up a dying platform.

Then there’s what’s on it. As much as you try to curate your own timeline, it’s consistently bombarded with stuff from people you don’t follow, garbage advertising, and content that is completely and utterly without moderation. Violence, racism, misogyny, sexism, and much worse, all unfettered and free-to-air because Twitter gave up any pretence of standards a long time ago.

I couldn’t stand it anymore, so apart from the days we have a match – where the business of Arseblog demands my attention – and occasional replies to a post first thing in the morning or a crafty afternoon RT, I don’t really use Twitter these days. It’s 99% automated now. When we post something, it goes to Twitter, the betting and porn bots reply, and that’s it for the most part.

It’s a bit of a shame, because it was a go-to, not just for Arsenal and football news, but breaking news in general. Since doing away with real verification, that part of it has been completely undermined. I moved the app on my phone five scrolls across to the right. Maybe I should delete it completely, but even taking it off my home-screen has broken the habit. There’s no more doom-scrolling, and I’ll be honest, while some might say it’s a head in the sand approach, it’s been fantastic. If I want news, I know where to go and get news I can trust. If I want to see if there’s an Arsenal story breaking, I now keep an eye on /r/gunners. It’s just as quick, without much of the clutter.

And look, I say this as someone who was active on Twitter for a long time, and who enjoyed the engagement and interaction with people I followed and who followed me. I barely see any of them anymore. I don’t know if that’s because they have left, or because the way the algorithm works now is hiding those replies. I don’t know if the opposite applies, that they don’t see me. I just wanted to let people know that my lack of activity there isn’t tied to them.

The majority of the conversations I have online now are tied to Arseblog itself. Whether it’s on the Arses (our comment system here), the comments on Arseblog News, Patreon posts, or our Discord – which is part of the Patreon membership. I’m no expert, but it looks a little to me like these long-standing communities, which were impacted by the advent of social media like Twitter and Facebook because the conversations moved there, are coming full-circle because many people just want somewhere to have a bit of a chat, without all the other nonsense.

I know there are other options. I have an account on BlueSky, but there’s so little going on it’s not worth bothering with, and I have a Threads account too which I looked at for a couple of days but then basically forgot about. Again because there’s so little happening. I’m also not particularly convinced that building a platform to try and recapture what Twitter used to be will work anyway. Eventually, if it gets popular enough, it will just suffer the same problems and who needs the same shit in a different flavour? It feels very much like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

At some point, a new thing will emerge, and that’s where people will go, until like many major platforms, its star fades and there’s nothing left but digital detritus. And we’ll move onto the next one. And the next one.

Anyway, Arseblog, and everything we do, will always exist first and foremost here. Whatever else goes on, that will be the consistent thing.

Till tomorrow.

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