Yes, I saw it. ESPN’s Bill Simmons helpfully directed the attention of his nearly 1.3 million Twitter followers to it. ESPN.com included the Thunder in its interactive feature about the greatest players in NBA teams’ histories, and Seattle SuperSonics players were on the list.
Unsurprisingly, bitter Seattle fans flooded the comments section with vitriol directed at the NBA, ESPN, Howard Schultz, David Stern, Clay Bennett and Oklahoma City. Most of the anger was directed at the first five, but of course plenty of people took pot shots at Oklahoma and its people. There were the usual belittling comments referring to OKC as “Hickville USA,” and even the regrettably predictable reference to the 1995 bombing a few blocks away from where Kevin Durant now drops 30 points a night.
Also unsurprising was the presence of some outnumbered Oklahoma City defenders who chose to engage in a back-and-forth with the most vocal and insulting commenters. All of the hateful nonsense on my computer screen got me riled up, as it often does when I see people invoke a mass murder as a way to put a city’s population down. I soon got to work on a column asking Sonics fans to leave the people of Oklahoma City out of it. I was determined to be logical, accommodating (of Seattle’s numerous legitimate gripes), passionate and fair.
But then I got a better idea. The only idea. What I think we all need to do in any debate of this kind, especially about something that won’t be changed and happened years ago.
Ignore it. Resist the temptation to engage them. Especially the ones who can’t spell. Here’s why:
1) You’re not going to change anyone’s mind. Think of it from your own point of view, even. Especially regarding a subject you’re passionate about, has anyone thrown anything at you on a website’s comments section that’s changed your mind? And you’re smart and reasonable, right? Try reasoning with the guy who is metaphorically throwing the contents of his diaper around in a room full of people having a debate. It’s just not going to work.
Two years after moving trucks finished their business in this deal, everyone who cares already knows about the facts. The sane people have long since moved on to being pissed only at Schultz, the NBA, Stern, etc., and that’s understandable. The people who still think it’s funny to make Dust Bowl jokes aren’t just waiting for people like you to enlighten them, in other words. Which brings up…
2) If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, nobody gives a crap about the tree and it probably feels stupid for falling in the first place. The Internet dawned a new era that we still are getting used to: Anybody can be heard. That’s power. You can say something that makes someone feel any one of a wide range of emotions to people across the planet. You can sit in front of your computer screen in Washington state and type something nasty on a comment board, and someone in Oklahoma will get pissed off, log in to talk back, and then think about you on their drive home. That’s tangible power.
So deny them the pleasure. Turn the figurative deaf ear, and definitely don’t acknowledge them by responding. That’s also tangible power.
3) You could be watching Kevin Durant highlight videos on YouTube instead. Seriously though. How cathartic would it be to just flip to some video of KD dominating the NBA instead of yell at a troll every time they insult Oklahoma? Positive energy!
So try it out. If some rabble rousers try to stir you up even here in this comment section, don’t be the rabble.