Print Edition: September 19, 2012
I drove out to Trinity Western University on Saturday with two goals in mind: primarily to watch UFV’s men’s soccer program battle our archrivals, the Spartans, but also to dabble in the dirty bathwater of the social media world.
In other words, I’d been told to begin “twitting,” or “tweeting” or whatever it’s called when men and women relentlessly blast 140 character mixtures of colloquialisms and pound signs into the stratosphere.
For a reporter who had purchased his first smartphone only a week before, it was a formidable task, but as UFV’s squad took the field I dove into the newly installed “Twitter” application and prepared to send my first “twit.”*
Yet, staring at an empty text box, I was struck by a sudden (and unforeseen) moment of doubt. What could I, of the several hundred people at the game, possibly add to the global conversation? What observation could cut through the layers of drivel and banality which so often characterize internet conversation, to reveal the gem of unique insight beneath?
I admit I was stumped, so I decided to instead execute an emergency about-turn and maintain some professionalism (as measured in crippling amount-of-boring per twit). As the 22 players upon the field were announced, I quickly typed the following: “At UFV-TWU men’s soccer game.”
There, I’d located myself, prepared the basis for further conversation. It wasn’t going to net me a Pulitzer, but it wouldn’t get my boss sent any angry emails either. Still, my twit seemed unfinished (an observation corroborated by my earlier research), so I decided to reference Friday’s 4-2 loss to a powerful UBC side. “Hope [coach] Errington and the boys continue yesterday’s excitement!” I wrote, and pressed “send” before I could begin to doubt myself.
It didn’t have any hashtagged words, and it wasn’t directed “@” anyone in particular, but it seemed like a promising start. For a while I put my phone away and enjoyed the satisfaction of being part of something larger than myself. The football flew back and forth across the field. I consumed a muffin and some Sodexo curly fries. All was good in the world.
Yet, just as I lowered my defensive scorn of all things social media, disaster struck. UFV’s Sasa Plavsic set up teammate Koby Byrne for a beautiful goal, and (to my horror) I realized it was time to send another twit. As UFV celebrated drawing first blood against a formidable Spartan team, I entered Twitter once again, only to be confronted with this:
Suddenly I remembered seeing UFV’s David Kent and assistant Junelle Mah on the sideline, armed with powerful smartphones, and (at least Junelle) terrible and arcane Twitter knowledge. Not only had she scooped me, but she also was also using proper Twitter tags, and even (as I perused her other twits) phrases such as “#thinkgreen” and “#greatworklads” in expert fashion. I hadn’t even considered that the UFV players themselves might have had twitter accounts, let alone that the University might have hashtag publicity campaigns in progress (#thinkgreen is an official Athletics Twitter phrase for the coming year).
UFV led for the rest of the half and much of the second, but, like one of the ill east winds that reminds you that Abbotsford is a farming community, a shift in momentum swept over the pitch. Cascades goalkeeper Mark Village was called upon to make save after save as gaps opened in the UFV defence. Despite Junelle’s brave and consistent twittering, social media alone couldn’t provide the edge, and the Cascades retreated from the field after 95 minutes with a 2-1 loss.
It would have been appropriate time to send another twit, but instead I shoved my phone into my pocket and wandered aimlessly onto the pitch.
“Hard game,” I thought, “but #goodworklads overall. If you #keepfighting and #thinkgreen next time those @TWUSpartans will end up like that cow in the first Jurassic Park movie. @goUFV!”
It’s 144 characters (four over the limit) so it needs some polishing, but the sports reporter in me would call it a solid second effort. I will learn, I decided. I’ll improve. I’ll change the world one twit at a time
One day I may even figure out how to attach photos.
*My usage of this specific jargon has drawn dire criticism from the loyal Twitter masses, but having been assured by David Kent (UFV Athletics, Information & Marketing) that this is indeed the correct term I am prepared to defend it.