The only response Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson should ever tweet: “Have a nice day!” | COMMENT

Aristotle once observed that the only sure way to avoid criticism is to do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. Or something like that, we weren’t there. But at least this much is certain about the ancient Greek philosopher who had a profound impact on Western learning: He had no football skills whatsoever and never sent a Tweet. Yet even though he didn’t have a social media account like so many of today’s armchair philosophers, his wisdom endures.

We mention this because last Sunday proved to be a pretty tough day for Baltimore Ravens fans and his star quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Not only did he come up short in a truly painful 28-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, completing only half of his passes, but the five-year veteran made a rookie mistake on Twitter. After the game, a Twitter user tagged Jackson in a tweet that suggested the quarterback — who is reportedly seeking $250 million in guaranteed salary in his next contract — should never have let the game go down on a 67-yard attempt from Justin. Tucker in the final seconds that fell short. “Let Lamar go and spend that money on a full team,” the Ravens front office critic recommended.

Jackson’s response was, shall we say, undiplomatic. It includes the common social media instruction to “STFU” — which this holiday season might mean “serve the fruitcake, uncle,” but we’re guessing was probably intended as “shut the F word,” which Sportswriters across the country helpfully described it as “profane.” Jackson’s tweet also noted that the original poster “never smelled like a football field,” and then threw in some additional crud that we won’t burden our readers with by repeating.

Jackson’s reply was deleted within hours, but his stupidity lingered in the digital world like cheap cologne. Some trolls had successfully baited one of the NFL’s star players. Imagine the joy that out-of-towner experienced doing nothing more profound than tapping a keyboard, tagging a celebrity, hitting the send button, and then watching it all go viral. Who says it’s hard to get on the pages of Sports Illustrated?

Fortunately, the members of The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board have modest experience in the world of trolling. We may not stir up passions like a star quarterback, but sharp criticism is kind of a regular companion when you’re writing for the editorial pages of a newspaper. Our advice? Don’t commit. A heated response only serves the purposes of the troll. Constructive criticism from credible sources is another matter, but on Twitter, criticism is often less about building up than tearing down, posting comments with the goal of causing offense or declaring one’s own supposed superiority. Twitter is about caustic remarks and clever comebacks; context and nuance are often lacking. And it’s unlikely to improve under the platform’s new owner, Elon Musk. The Tesla and SpaceX “Stefan” is a master troller himself and has continued spoil Twitter even worse since spending $44 billion to acquire it.

As for our fellow Baltimoreans, we’d just point out that Lamar Jackson shouldn’t be judged too harshly for his social media outburst, nor should he be bashed on Twitter for his play. He’s 25 years old, incredibly talented in a sport where you risk serious injury every minute you play, and he’s dealing with enormous pressures that few of us can fully appreciate. Forget ‘smelly’ football pitches, how would you like to know that a potential quarter of a billion payday is based on your performance on any given Sunday? OK, OK, for some of us wannabes, that would be pretty sweet.

Still, it’s better to put down the screens and after a hard afternoon of watching our superstar soccer players sing for our entertainment, maybe go for a little walk around the block to clear our heads before scales, if applicable. You don’t have to be a celebrity to post messages you’ll later regret on Twitter or elsewhere. What if you are the recipient of a malicious message? Better to keep it in Aristotle’s mind, or simply reply with a “Good day!” and tell your critics that you cannot be so easily shaken.

Baltimore Sun editors provide opinion and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. They work separately from the newsroom.


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