In a rare instance in the virtual world of Twitter, it is not the user that has forced himself off the medium due to an errant Tweet, but instead vehement followers that shut down an account. It was a quick but saddening experience for Darren Gibson, midfielder for English Premiere League powerhouse Manchester United, and all of 23 years old. He signed up to Twitter, surely optimistically, only to be bombarded with two hours of nonstop abuse and harassment from fans of the team.
Teammate Wayne Rooney joined the social network just days ago and in less than a week has already earned nearly 250,000 followers. Rio Ferdinand also of United is on Twitter as well with over 800,000 fans, welcomed Gibson to the site, encouraging people to follow his teammate: “We have a new member from the Man utd crew… @dgibbo28 has joined twitterverse show him some love tweeps!”
Fans did not exactly follow suit. Many of the responses were fraught with expletives, condemning his play on the field throughout the season.
- You are an abysmal excuse for a footballer. You’re a one trick pony — a s*** one at that. What Fergie sees in you I don’t know.
- @dgibbo28 hasn’t tweeted yet. Seems somewhat fitting after the countless anonymous performances we’ve seen from the ‘footballer’
- my mate thought you were about 33 years old in the heart of midfield! Movement like pirlo!!
- Your performance on Saturday was one of the worst I’ve ever seen of any utd player. scared of the ball much?
- Nothing would make me happier than if we sold you in the summer, you’re probably a nice bloke, but an awful footballer.
Gibson has appeared in 13 games this season with only two goals and three assists. His contract expires at the end of next season, and manager Sir Alex Ferguson (Fergie in the Twitterverse) has yet to extend it.
While some were positive, they could not compare to the barrage Gibson was receiving. One user was particularly realistic: “This isn’t going to end well, Darron Gibson now on Twitter. Should build his character if nothing else.” Thus in only 120 minutes, Gibson’s foray into Twitter came to a short and hugely unsuccessful end.
It seems there is no escape for footballers among the passionate fan base in England, especially if you’re not among the more beloved ones. It has yet to happen to any athlete in North America, and hard at the moment to think of anyone or any event to incur such wrath. Lebron James is a particularly polarizing NBA players but he has an immense amount of talent and still may legions of ardent fans. Perhaps an American football player, a kicker even, may draw scorn after causing a team to lose in a big game, but even then it is hard to fans taking hatred to Twitter.
So do fans have a right to attack a player, even as young as Gibson, when he attempts to connect with them online? Was Gibson right to start an account, and was he right to end it? While a hashtag has started about to get Gibson to return to the site, it seems unlikely the player will return any time soon, and surely if he does, he’ll keep things a bit more quiet.