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Researching #MetsTwitter

Scientific progress goes "hashtag!"

Twitter is fascinating. Like other popular dot-com gathering places with user-generated content, Twitter represents everything good, bad, and boring about modern mass media. Insofar as it fosters connections, gives "the people" a voice, and facilitates the dissemination of ideas and information, it is wonderful. On the other hand, the extreme brevity that Twitter imposes plays a major role in the degraded, cynical, and misleading "conversations" around various important world events, whereby hot-headed opinions are forged by snappy reductionist arguments captured in infographics, sound bites, and hashtags. Not so incidentally, Twitter also plays host to all manner of bullies, trolls, and harassers. And of course, the sheer volume of compulsive, attention-seeking behavior—"look at me, I'm doing my #laundry"—can render Twitter a colossally brainless waste of time.

Sports Twitter is particularly strange, which makes sense: Sports are strange. They inspire all manner of irrational behavior, from going shirtless and face-painted in public in sub-freezing temperatures to spending thousands of dollars on tickets to single playoff games when the rent is due. Sports bring out people's inner lunatic—and concordant spending habits—in a way that other industries only wish they could. Twitter, for its part, is practically tailor-made for the proliferation of this gleeful madness.

I am of the opinion that Mets Twitter, by nature, isn't particularly unique among its peers in the Baseball Twitter solar system of the Sports Twitter Galaxy, but that doesn't mean it isn't remarkable as a thing unto itself. Put another way (minus the triple negative), Mets Twitter is weird and wild stuff. I would not be surprised to learn that a doctoral student somewhere is plumbing its depths for sociological research of some sort. After all, the virtual space of Mets Twitter often plays host to a cornucopia of exasperating fascinating behavior: baseless, outrageous opinions, preposterous TRAID demands, and an abiding undercurrent of white-hot, all-caps-for-emphasis outrage. Curiously and sort of endearingly, it is also in a perpetual conversation with itself that occasionally borders on the delusional: One often encounters critiques of Mets Twitter for extolling such-and-such #hottake about the news of the moment—minus the apparent existence of said #hottakes.

Despite my tone of novelty, I am steadfast in my belief that human behavior makes sense. The word "crazy" is a staple of our vernacular, and is bandied about as a convenient catch-all adjective to describe behavior that seems unusual or extreme; and while the use of that word is understandable, its implicit dismissiveness encourages either the diversion of attention from, or LOLing at, the behavior in question—thus eliminating or drastically reducing the chances that the observer will attempt to arrive at an understanding of the behavior's origins and utility. Simply put, people do the things they do, however extreme, for a reason, even if that reason is hidden from their own awareness. It is helpful—and humanizing—to bear that in mind as one seeks to engage a given constituency. I suspect I will need to remind myself of it often as I seek to understand, explain, and reflect upon the products of Mets Twitter for future columns.

My methodology for "taking the pulse" of Mets Twitter will be simple. Periodically, I will conduct Twitter searches for Mets-themed content and attempt to ascertain the emergent themes, which, I assume, will tend toward being topical and utterly exasperating in nature, particularly when actual things happen—such as Daniel Murphy declining the Mets' qualifying offer or Wuilmer Becerra being left off the 40-man roster.

Indeed, the Daniel Murphy saga as seen through the eyes of Mets Twitter—from the #ImWith28 campaign to the drivel-media-driven "controversy" surrounding his brief paternity leave to his statement of opinion on LGBTQ "lifestyles" to his Bondsian performance against the Dodgers and Cubs to his defensive crapulence in the World Series—is what inspired me to embark on this dubious exploration. Really, though, it doesn't matter which player it is or what news has occurred: #MetsTwitter will have something to say about it. It should be interesting to compare the #hottakes therein with the more reasonable and reasoned analysis one often finds around these parts and elsewhere. I hope to learn something about it and us as time progresses. May (insert deity here) have #mercy on my #soul.