To be an Olympian is the world’s way of recognizing that you are one of the very best in your sport of choice. It’s a small, and very elite, club. Athletes train for years to reach this level of skill, and regardless of the number or kind of medals that come from the Games, all deserve to be praised and respected for reaching this point in their careers.
This, combined with my love for the sport of diving, is why I’m disgusted by what I’ve been reading in the news/on Twitter regarding the men’s 10m (that’s 2.5 storeys) platform synchronized diving event.
The team from Great Britain, made up of divers Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield, were favourites for a medal position. And in fact, up until halfway through the competition, this dynamic duo were leading the Chinese: no small feat in the sport of diving. At Dive 4 (of 6) though, things took a turn for the worse and with such fierce competition in this pool the British soon fell to fourth, where they finished the event. A disappointment for sure, and I can promise that no one was more disappointed than the divers themselves.
Tom, at the beginning of the day, dedicated his event to his deceased father, whom he lost to cancer in 2011. He posted a thank you tweet before the event to acknowledge the vast amounts of support flooding in from across the country (and arguably, the world!):
Then, the trolls became involved. It’s interesting to see the dynamic of social media surrounding these games, as the technology was not widely in use or accepted during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Sadly, this means you get the best (and the worst) in people coming out to play.
A user with the username @Rileyy_69 tweeted the following messages to Tom after the results of the 10m event:
And, in the event that these Tweets/this account is deleted, here are a couple images:
Disgusting, honestly and truly. I love how people feel the need to contribute their $0.02 opinion to something that they know nothing about. I’m no expert in diving, but I know that it’s definitely not easy.
The really great divers make it look easy, almost effortless, to get from point A to point B with all manners of flips and twists in between. Here’s a look at some still shots from divers after they leave the board and before they hit the water:
Funny? Yeah, definitely a little. (There’s more here, if you’re interested.) But it really does show the amount of energy and force that goes into each and every dive.
Peons like this Twitter troll disgust me, because they have no respect for anyone, including themselves. I don’t know how small and sad your little life must be that you feel the need to take out your rage anonymously on someone who has achieved something that you couldn’t reach in your wildest dreams, medal or no medal.
The argument of “the Internet is for free speech, blah blah blah” is a valid one in most cases, and I’m not one to stop someone from stating their opinions. But this is cyber-bullying, plain and simple, and should not be tolerated. I highly doubt this person would find Tom Daley and say any of the above to his face in the street. Just as freedom of speech covers you to a certain extent, so does the anonymity of the Internet. If you post something threatening or abusive, it’s possible for you to be tracked down and punished. Let this be a lesson to trolls everywhere that you’re not under the secure veil that used to exist. Technology is a lot more sophisticated now.
There’s also a difference between abusing someone and stating your opinion. Tweeting to Daley that you’re disappointed in the results of the competition and wishing he’d have done better is one thing, but “threaten[ing] one of the respondents [to the tweet], while claiming he would “drown” Daley,” goes beyond inappropriate.
The trolls confusion at the public backlash is especially hilarious. He seems puzzled that people are still sending angry messages his way. His shallow apology is short-lived when the troll realizes that the simple message won’t make the haters go away, or make Daley respond and accept his apology (which would then probably take some of the heat off). Daley responded with only with the one RT of the original, and the rest was the Internet defending someone they respect and showing their disgust in another.
But, as wretched a display as this was, there is some justice in the world. The offensive little punk (there’s my opinion seeping in just a little…) was found by investigators in a guest house in Weymouth.
Police have arrested a 17-year-old man in connection with offensive tweets sent to Tom Daley, according to reports.
Police have made an arrest at a guest house in Weymouth following a series of abusive tweets, Sky Sports News reports.
Police were forced to investigate after Daley received a series of horrible messages on the social networking site following his participation in the synchronised 10m platform yesterday.
Link to full article and related stories here. While I’m glad that this particular waste of internet space was found and prosecuted, it also makes me sad that more often than not, it has to be someone at the Olympic level for police to take immediate action, as they did in this case. What about all the other trolls out there, hiding behind their anonymity to blast and tear apart the lives of others that they wish they had? More often than not the advice is “don’t feed the trolls.”
I only hope that one day, they stop getting hungry.