Taking The Good With The Bad

Many times, including my post this past Monday – people have asked me why I continue to lower myself to engage in social media. They note that I get so riled up over some of the things I see, that I should just stay off of it altogether.

While that might be good for my psyche, it’s not the right approach to take if I want to stay on top of what is going on in the world of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Like it or not, social media is here to stay. If I chose to ignore it, I couldn’t comment here on things going on with IndyCar and have any real credibility. I would be far behind on a lot of things.

I do not do Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat (except for the funny pictures). But I do utilize Twitter and Facebook quite a bit. Without those two, I might go hours or even days without hearing the racing news that I see on them. In 2009, it was on Twitter where I first learned of the acquittal of Helio Castroneves on tax-evasion charges. Mainstream media did not have anything concrete for at least another hour.

Unfortunately, it was on Twitter and Facebook that I learned of the confirmed fatalities of Dan Wheldon and Justin Wilson. This past Sunday, the injuries to Josef Newgarden were confirmed on the IndyCar Facebook and Twitter accounts long before they showed up elsewhere.

Facebook was the main outlet for the Jay Frye/Eddie Gossage press conference on Sunday afternoon. It may have been on IndyCar.com, but without social media, I never would have known there would be a press conference.

As much as I’d like to, I don’t always have the luxury of watching Friday practices at work. For whatever reason, I’m actually expected to perform some duties related to my job at work; so I can’t always sit in my office and stare at my monitor with a perplexed look on my face as if I’m concentrating on some work-related dilemma. On those days when I can’t watch a practice, I have to rely on a quick glance at social media to see what I missed.

With the access to facts, stats, photos and videos also comes the unsolicited opinions of others. The absolute worst are all of the crazy political posts – from both sides of the aisle. Political posts are completely pointless in my opinion. No one in their right mind will ever have their opinion changed by these. Does anyone really decide who gets their presidential vote by what they read on Facebook? Most of the time these are posted by faceless and nameless people sitting behind a keyboard, hoping to inflame emotions. Some “friends” of mine see these and share them; maybe not so much trying to instigate trouble, but possibly a way to digitally pound their collective chests.

If I’ve learned only one thing from our friend Pressdog, it is this – never engage the crazies! There is no good that can come out of it. In a rare instance, I’ll lose control and take the bait. Usually I regret. Lately, I just shake my head and move on – or just block the person if their idiotic posts are way too frequent to my liking.

As a blogger, however – I feel as if it is my duty to, not only keep up with social media for the news, but also to take the pulse of the fans. It’s my responsibility to know what fans are thinking. Sometimes an issue may come up within the Verizon IndyCar Series that I think I know which way I’m leaning. But an opposing viewpoint may be brought up by a fan which I may have never thought of. If it is presented in a fact-based logical way, it’s quite possible that I might change my mind on something.

For example, some may remember my original stance on ending the season by Labor Day. I was for it. I thought it was suicidal to try and go up against the NFL in September and October. After reading and listening to rational arguments, plus living through two very long offseasons – I’ve completely reversed my view on that issue. See, I’m not that set in my ways.

Most times, I read opposing viewpoints and figure that it is just another opinion. I don’t get mad, nor do I feel the need to engage. I read it and move on. If it is a compelling argument, I give it some thought. At times I’ll soften my stance. Other times, reading opposing viewpoints strengthen my resolve that I was right all along.

Those that suggest I should stay away from social media are only reacting to the times when I’m outraged enough to mention the comments on this site (like I did this past Monday). Most of the time, I shrug off the comments without giving them a single thought.

Former Tennessee Titan and local talk show host Frank Wychek refers to Twitter as the world’s largest bathroom wall. You have to know to take it with a grain of salt.

Social media can be a cesspool, but once you filter out the mindless chatter – it is a necessary evil in our society. I hardly follow anyone on Twitter, in fact I only follow 78 people. They are either fellow current and former IndyCar bloggers; or more traditional news sources like Curt Cavin, Racer magazine, Kevin Lee, Steve Wittich, Tony DiZinno, Jake Query or Marshall Pruett; drivers like Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden, Pippa Mann and a few others. Lastly, I follow IndyCar/IMS officials like Jay Frye and Doug Boles along with the official IndyCar and IMS Twitter accounts.

There are a couple of local sports figures I follow along with a couple of very close friends. So if you followed me and got offended that I didn’t follow you back – don’t be. Otherwise, I’d be sifting through all kinds of minutiae while trying to get IndyCar news.

It is on Facebook where I see most of the bile. There may be a standard post from IndyCar about an upcoming race, but Facebook will tell me that one of my “friends” commented. When I click on the comments, that’s when I’m likely to see some asinine rambling post. Depending on the mood I’m in or how ridiculous it sounds determines my frustration level.

So, frustrations aside – in this day and age, I feel the best way to keep up with what is going on in the world of IndyCar is to be on social media. To deny its value would be akin to sticking my head in the sand. I’m old and out of touch as it is. I can’t afford to be out of touch with IndyCar, too. Just keep the politics out of it.

George Phillips

Please Note: As I usually do when there is not a race on Father’s Day, I will take the weekend off so I can relax and enjoy being a dad. I will return here on Wednesday June 22. I’ll also be remembering my own father, who introduced me to the sport of IndyCar racing, by taking me to my first Indianapolis 500 back in 1965. He and I attended his last Indianapolis 500 together in 1993, before he passed away a year and a half later. Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there this weekend! – GP

11 Responses to “Taking The Good With The Bad”

  1. Brian McKay Says:

    First to vote today (4:11 Central).
    Another good blog post, George.
    Enjoy family time.

  2. Jack in Virginia Says:

    An interesting thing about social media is that it has stood the advertising world on its head. My wife and I run a small Bed & Breakfast in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. We have found that the most effective advertising (by a wide margin) is social media, especially Facebook. And it’s FREE. We have run newspaper ads, radio ads, and magazine ads, with almost zero result (and substantial cost). We always ask our guests how they found us and 95% of them say they found us either on Facebook, or by Googling “Lodging at Smith Mountain Lake”. I would not want to be in the mainline advertising business right now.

  3. The thing to always remember, beyond don’t engage the crazies, is that social media gives a HUGE megaphone to a small minority. I believe we had the same percentage of wack jobs were out there 100 years ago, they just couldn’t use social media to bitch and be asinine as they can today. So it SEEMS like a higher percentage of people are bitching, I don’t believe that’s the case. While it may seem like EVERYBODY is mad etc., that’s almost always not the case. Keeping those facts in mind helps me not overestimate the popularity of some opinion OR despair for the entire human race when the vocal minority take to the keyboards. Plus, ranting on social media is very seductive. We all do it, whether it’s about the length of the Starbucks line or whatever. Some of that is human nature. When stuff is fine and working as expected, silence. Something goes wrong, Festival of Complaints. I, personally, am trying to cut down on that (with spotty success).

  4. billytheskink Says:

    Frank Wychek’s statement is a grave insult to bathroom walls everywhere…

  5. Ron Ford Says:

    As ol’ Bill might have said: The twittering of twits, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  6. EDGAR Emmitt Says:

    I don’t have either of the 2 big social media sites and I’m fine with it.
    You get enough of it on TV and other sites for my fill.
    It has its good points but plenty of the dark side of life.

    Thanks for your site because the people that join in are civil to the next guys opinion.


    P.S. You won’t have to search far for a good brat at RA

  7. Thanks George for being our eyes and ears out there. I truly appreciate what you bring to us each week. I honestly don’t have the time to even get through email, so social media isn’t something I am interested in. Maybe when I retire I will have time to put my toes in the water, but to be frank I just don’t care about “likes”.

    Happy Father’s Day one and all!!

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