It was fun while it lasted

Please forgive me for such a self-indulgent post, but hopefully you’ll see why I’m writing it by the end.

February 2010 was when I joined Twitter. Social media as we know it now was in its infancy. Twitter was a bit like a series of Facebook statuses — because that’s what we knew. People were dipping their toes into the water and finding their clans amongst a fairly small user-base. I had the sole intention of using it for Spurs stuff, with a major focus on the Academy. At that point, I was the only person that was doing that on Twitter, and so I fairly quickly gained a bit of a following because there were so few ways of finding out information about the Academy, and I was actually going to Under-18 matches and reporting on them, both directly on Twitter and on this blog. I was watching Ryan Mason bang them in for Spurs’ U18s and tweeting about it. That dates it pretty well!

Fast-forward to 2021. Twitter is a very different place with very different rules and I have failed to adapt. In the process of failing to adapt, I have stopped getting more good from it than bad, and often that ratio is a long way off.

COYS Twitter is a particularly hostile place. It is a fractured, segregated environment, with different factions and groups — a sort of heightened version of reality. You have right-wing COYS, left-wing COYS, analytics COYS, pave COYS, ENIC Out COYS. There are two groups that I particularly want to focus on briefly, though.

Football Twitter (FT) COYS. Handles like LoCelsoSZN (sorry if that actually exists, I didn’t check). Bios like ‘I used to have a bio but Kane smashed it into the bottom corner’. A picture of a Spurs player as the avatar. Anonymous except for, maybe, a forename. These are mostly young people, often teenagers, who have been brought up on social media, who are unbelievably hardened to cyber bullying and are savagely relentless in their trolling of one another and everyone else around them. They are often deliberately insincere and flippant in nearly every tweet, using a lexicon of sarcasm to give a pretence that they’re above nearly every issue, constantly undermining each other and then over-celebrating Dubs (Ws, wins) and Ls (losses) when they’ve ‘got’ someone. To do this they use copypasta and memes so it appears harmless and frivolous. You’ll find they randomly tweet about mental health every now and again too, failing to see the complete contradiction in their behaviour.

Then there’s the Mourinhistas. They arrived in COYS Twitter with their favourite manager and they’ve not yet left. They drank the Kool-aid. They are cult-like, they are bot-like, they are single-minded and they hunt in packs. They search for tweets on their guy. They defend him with every bit of energy they have, teaming up to abuse, ridicule. They are, from my experience, often misogynistic and occasionally homophobic and transphobic. If you don’t like Mourinho you have a ‘weak mentality’ and you, the person expressing an opinion about him, are the specific reason your club did not win the league this year, not their favourite manager. I want to make it clear that some fans of Mourinho are completely reasonable. But I (and others) have been aggressively targeted by many who are not.

Anyway, as of today, 24 May 2021, I am basically a meme on COYS Twitter. I am a joke figure amongst a not insignificant part of our fanbase’s Twitter users. By now you probably all know the story of One Hundred Imaginary Trophies. You probably also know about the unconscious bias ‘episode’ that I spoke about recently on The Fighting Cock. You may have even seen the third instalment in the trilogy of my errors where I replied to my mate Bankrupt about an element of the Harry Kane interview. You can check out the quote retweets here if you have the stomach for it.

I see myself as an idiot for tweeting about any of these things. I have not learned my lessons, I am too earnest, I am too sincere; I live in a bubble and too often forget that many, many people don’t share my leftist worldview. But I don’t believe that I deserve the level of abuse, bullying and intimidation that I am now on the receiving end of on a near daily basis. I have received many threats of violence, one of which I reported to the police because it also referred to my partner and I was slightly scared for us both.

Changing tack slightly, I think one of the reasons I am targeted is that I have a verified account. Getting a blue tick was something I was quite proud of for about an hour, then, if I’m honest, it briefly became a handy tool for being noticed by people I wanted to make contact with (you get a special tab in your mentions for ‘verified’ replies only). Ever since it’s been something I have regretted very, very often. It’s something people use against me. I think people see the blue tick people as a brand — an agency using the account, rather than individual human beings. Because, I guess, lots of blue tick account are brands. I also think there’s an assumption that those with blue ticks see themselves as above everyone else. For me, it was the opposite. I found it undermining and felt embarrassed, as time went on, to have a blue tick just because I wrote a few Spurs articles for publications back in the day.

Alongside this, I think there’s a misunderstanding about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a pile-on. People often say to me ‘you put opinions out there in a large account, you have to expect people to disagree’, as if this is simply a bit of disagreement. The quote retweet culture is not about disagreeing. It’s about performatively disagreeing in a way which encourages others to perfomatively disagree. There’s a big difference between ten people replying to a tweet by saying ‘this is nonsense, you clown, shut up’ and ten people quote tweeting your tweet with the comment ‘this is nonsense, you clown, shut up’, which leads to another ten and another ten and another ten with multiple replies and likes on each. It’s particularly different when a lot of the disagreement quickly becomes abusive. Before you know it there’s a mass pile-on. This is bullying.

Quote retweet culture is troubling. I use (or, used) quote retweets quite a bit, usually to add commentary to an article or a piece of news in a way which allows people to see the source and also credits that source. But, more often, it’s used to generate clicks (‘quote retweet this with how you like your toast’) or to dunk on people — often for political views. Speaking of which, I sometimes I have to remind myself that most of what I do is expressing opinions on football, it’s really not incendiary stuff in the grand scheme of things.

But I admit that I am also, at heart, a bit of a social justice warrior. I care deeply about matters of equality and that seeps into my tweets, naturally, because as well as being WindyCOYS, someone who comments on football, I am also Chris Miller, who wants to live in a more equal society. So when I spoke about toxic masculinity to my mate Bankrupt, I was reflecting on Kane’s comment. I won’t deconstruct it here because it’s not the purpose of the article (and, frankly, I’m not keen to repeat the past few days), but if you’re interested, here’s some reading.

I have decided that it is not fun for me on Twitter anymore. Not only is it not fun, it is an actively unpleasant experience every day. Getting hundreds of people calling you an idiot, or worse, is a bit like being put in the stocks in your local village. You feel exposed, everyone’s laughing at you. Some of those people are people you respect. I try not to worry about what others think about me, focussing only on friends and family and people I care about, but it’s difficult with that sort of volume of aggressive criticism (and beyond) not to be affected. I can’t just mute a thread and walk-away — I’ve tried it but I don’t have the self-discipline; I am quite an all or nothing person and ultimately I do care too much about what other people think, which is something I need to work on.

Another observation is that the COYS community doesn’t really look out for one another anymore. I tend to get messages of support via email or Direct Messages when I’m in the midst of a round of abuse and harassment, which is always lovely and appreciated, but people are so scared about being the next person that gets turned on that they don’t call out bullies. There are three individuals on Twitter who have ultimately caused this experience to be so excruciatingly bad for me over the past few months, and they carry on unchecked. I see them doing the same sorts of things to others — their behaviour gets them likes, retweets, they gain followers.

If I could urge you to do two things differently having read this, it’s 1. to be active bystanders online as well as in-person. To let people know that you’ve seen their behaviour and that it’s mean spirited or not okay. Don’t put yourself at risk but when you feel able to stick up for someone who is being targeted, if you feel like you can say something to stop a pile-on happening, give it a go. And 2. to send people you enjoy on social media some positive vibes. One nice tweet a day to someone you appreciate is not a hard target to maintain. Those messages can help cut through the mountain of negativity.

With all of this in mind I’ve decided to stop using Twitter. I’ll still run The Extra Inch account to get podcast questions or run the odd poll here and there to get a gauge of the fanbase. And I’ll still use my personal account to follow news and politics and whatnot. But I won’t be tweeting from WindyCOYS, at least for a few months, maybe for the next season, maybe forever.

There will be some people who celebrate me no longer being on Twitter, who will take it as a victory. Literally every single one of those people could have muted me and never seen me or my football opinions ever again. That’s what I find so sad about all of this.

I’m going to use this blog more, and I’m going to put the vast, vast majority of my energy into The Extra Inch Patreon, where there is a wonderful Spurs community on Discord which is a complete antidote to Twitter. You can still also hear me on our free, weekly podcast and I’m contactable if you need to get in touch with me; details on the contact page of this blog.

Thanks to all who’ve sent me messages and checked in on me — please, please don’t feel the need to do so again, I’m honestly absolutely fine and I’d rather you put your energy into more needy causes (and sending positive vibes to people you appreciate!). Take care and COYS x

Join the conversation

  1. Sorry to hear that mate. I’ve always followed you and like your stuff. Keep it up!
    1. Thanks! Will definitely be making more use of this blog going forward and enjoying the sense of freedom so far.
  2. Hey Chris. Riddley82 (ross) here. Keep the blog going. And if you ever wanted a MH chat I'm all good.
    1. Thanks Ross! I'm all good, thanks, amazing sense of relief having left Twitter and will be making full use of this blog.
  3. I lived in China for several years. Twitter is blocked there so it was inconvenient for me to use Twitter. When I moved back to Europe a couple of years ago I couldn't believe that Twitter had gone from a fairly pleasant place to share hobbies and creative works to a total hellmouth. Since I've been back here I have sadly been drawn into using it again. You have been one of the few positive people on there during that time so I am selfishly sorry to see you leave but delighted for you. It is an awful piece of software designed to leverage the outrage economy for the enrichment of a few tech bros. I can't wait to read your new blog posts!
    1. That's a really, really interesting insight Matt - it's been a bit more of a slow creep for me due to not having that 'big bang' exposure like you, but I'm so happy to not be having to engage with it in the same way.
  4. Sorry this has happened to you Chris. Twitter is a vile, vile place a lot of the time and no one should be subjected to this. Looking forward to hearing you on the extra inch.
    1. Thanks, Chris. I'm so much happier already since leaving it - I regularly found my experience very frustrating or upsetting and don't know why I didn't think to leave before.
  5. I understand your feelings, I commented on a newspaper report in the mail the other day and was told that Me and fans like me are the problem with our club yet I was just making some comments that I thought were fair, justified and my opinion. The reply I got were nothing short of bullying and I just thought that these are not fans I want to be associated with. He also trolled other comments I made on the same article. After that I subscribed to the Athletic and joined Spurs community and so far they seem a pretty fair lot on there. I’m afraid it’s the social media cyber bullying used by cowards.
    1. You're unfortunately right, Michael. You've done the right thing in finding a community that works better for you. There are some really good homes for Spurs stuff out there, but you do have to dig deep to find them!
  6. Sad you had to go through this. I work in tech, and I and many of my colleagues all dropped social media like a hot potato between 2015-2017 and have never come back. Twitter, FB, Insta all have toxic effects on society and the people that use the platforms. I urge anyone who hasn't watched the Social dilemma to do so.
    1. I've still not watched it, I really must!
  7. Gutted to see this, and sorry to see you’ve been through such a shit time. Glad to hear you will continue the pod.
    1. Thanks Mark! Yes, the pod will go on!
  8. Really not a big deal leaving Twitter. You will feel better for it I reckon, so no need to think much more about it. Just get back to enjoying life.
    1. This is already my experience, James!
  9. Hey, I have read your blog on newsnow from time to time, as I have some this evening. I personally don’t use Twitter, too old to bother with social media nowadays, and I don’t think I will bother having read what you have been through. Sorry to hear that. There are some real sad individuals out there, but keep the faith. COYS
    1. Thanks Scott. Yes, definitely give Twitter a swerve is my advice!
  10. God speed Windy. Ill miss your in game takes, but glad you'll still be doing the pod.
    1. Maybe I can find a way to add them here...
  11. Really sad to see you come off the platform and feel guilty about not sticking up for you. I can't imagine what it's like coming under such intense scrutiny, and it's probably why I've remained mostly a watcher of Twitter rather than taking part. It seems far too easy for certain people to not treat others like human beings. Glad to hear you're still doing the podcast, really enjoy your insight. uksb
    1. Hey - don't feel guilty, I think the point is that it would need to be a group effort else. Thanks for the comment!
  12. Hi Windy. I only just saw that you’re leaving Twitter, I left a message there but have decided to send you one here to so you see it, as I just want to let you know that I’m so sorry you’ve received so much abuse through that site. It’s really terrible the way that people behave on there and it’s not fair at all that you’ve been targeted the way you have. You won’t know me, I’m not a very active tweeter at all, I’m a huge Liverpool fan actually but came across you as my boyfriend is a big spurs fan and I’ve always loved reading your tweets/actively sought them out if you’ve not appeared on my timeline for a while. Anyway this is turning into a ramble, I really just wanted to say that I’m sorry to see you go, and hope you get much more positivity and fulfilment from whatever you turn your attention to now. COYS.
    1. Hello Samantha - so nice of you! And it's quite a compliment that a Liverpool fan would follow me! Does your boyfriend listen to our podcast, The Extra Inch? You might both enjoy it!
  13. So sorry to hear about all of this. I've followed you for some time, and you bring sanity and genuinely interesting insight into my timeline. I always look for your tweets after Spurs games for a reasoned take on what's transpired. Twitter will be a(n even) worse place when you've gone.
    1. Thanks for being so kind, Dan.
  14. Windy you are an absolute champion and I honestly hope you don’t take that shit to heart. Not on Twitter and have honestly never seen any of this. You guys do such great work with your pod and all the other stuff you do. It’s just mob mentality and cowardice. Chin up and keep producing the fantastic stuff you guys do.
    1. Thanks very much for the support, Jaco!
  15. You're absolutely doing the right thing mate. Life is too short, focus on what brings you joy. In a few weeks you will wonder why you stuck it out on twitter for so long. I will continue to listen to you on the extra inch. Keep up the good work.
    1. Peter, it's not even taken a few weeks - huge sense of relief already!
  16. Chris Genuinely sorry to hear this - as someone who too shareS your desire for a socially equitable world - it's a tragedy that some a-holes make Twitter such a toxic experience. Glad to see you you are committed to the pod - really appreciate what you do - thanks to the introduction to Chris through SOTTG - and look forward to your insight and take on all things Spurs. PS always free to talk MH - am a sufferer too. Love to Bardi & Nathan
    1. Thanks so much, Sean!
  17. hi windy followed you on Twitter for absolutely years now (was on when your account started tweeting porn), we've interacted a few times but you may not know me. Just wanted to say thank you for your tweets over the years, I think you're an absolute gent and one of the nicest guys I've ever had the pleasure of following on the platform. I genuinely couldn't think of a guy more undeserving of this vile abuse and absolutely despise that it has come to this. You were one of my first follows on Twitter and easily one of my best, you really will be missed I hope you know that. Spurs Twitter Legend, appreciated far more than you could ever know. Actually just found some old Twitter interactions between you and my recently passed dad (@paullesner1), back in 2011, think he must of put me on to you, he was a ledge and so are you. Wish you all the best and love to you and your family <3 Love mate @matthewlesner
    1. Aw, Matthew - such a nice message and that was so sweet about your old man. A reminder of how this beautiful, agonising game unites us.
  18. I gave up on Twitter some months ago and joined not long after you. I'm guessing I followed you early on. I remember discussions about Marcus Edwards (really thought he'd make it. Not seen the Mourinho hassle you had, but I really can't understand their logic. Not hard to see that he was the manager he was only when accompanied by Rui Faria. Since he left him, Mourinho is a Clough without his Taylor. I predict every team he managers henceforth will turn into the kind of team Clough found himself with at Leeds. Anyway...look forward to reading your informed opinion via your blog in the future. All the best TT
    1. Thanks TT, and I look forward to reading your responses!
  19. Heartbreaking mate, Absolutely heart breaking to read. Big love from South Australia!
    1. Thank you for the support, James!
  20. This is a real shame and you'll be missed by a LOT of true Spurs fans online. You opened a lot of eyes with your knowledge of the Spurs youth team progress. That void won't be filled until you come back, which I hope is soon. I am on twitter and I followed you, but I don't tweet. I refuse to engage in the toxic dialogue that is totally rampant on that site. Please take real care and many thanks for the invaluable info you've provided over the years
    1. Thanks so much! Your approach to Twitter is a very healthy one.
  21. Sorry to hear all this Windy. I've never used social media (FB, Twatter etc.) as I think that people use it to abuse others. This blog confirms it. You seem like a decent bloke, and I've always read WindyCOYS for your inciteful comments. Don't let the bastards grind you down.
    1. Thanks for the kind message!
  22. Hi Chris. We've had some conversations from time-to-time, and I loved following you on twitter and the podcasts in Fighting Cock and Extra Inch. I know I might be the 20th person to say this or even more, but you are one of the good guys. It must be difficult to be in this kind of drama and being ridiculed for absolutely no reason other than stating your opinion (which is the correct one). I hope you land on your feet and that you come back and perhaps lock who can reply to you and stuff. All the best /Claus (Danishfooty on twitter).
    1. Thank you, Claus! I am not sure I'll be back - already enjoying ploughing my energy into other platforms. Take care!
  23. Very sorry to hear Windy, looking through those responses you received on the Kane masculinity point is very difficult reading. I fully support you and will be listening to the extra inch every week to still get your views! don't let these kids get you down you're a great bloke! Much love. Jeremy
    1. Thanks Jeremy, really appreciate the kindness!
  24. Sorry to hear this, Windy. Here are some positive vibes for you: I'm an American who started watching football during the pandemic and after watching as a neutral, chose Tottenham as my club. Having no context for the game's rules, tactics, club dynamics, etc., I'll say that you, Nathan and Bardi have been absolutely indispensable in my burgeoning fandom. Picking up a new sport cold turkey can be a bit like trying to understand Greek but The Extra Inch has been a must-listen for me. The podcast has illuminated a lot of nuance around the Spurs' talent, style of play and strategy that I wouldn't have understood just watching the matches on their own. So from across the pond all the way from Montana, a hearty thank you for all your efforts and COYS!
    1. Aw Cody, this was so nice to ready. Your feedback is hugely appreciated and I'm glad we've enhanced your fandom!
  25. Hi Chris, Been a follower on Twitter for a while and loved reading your takes on the yoof and the club in general. I feel like you and I are pretty aligned as fans and I'm very sad to see you go. The fact that it's mostly fellow Spurs fans doing this to you is a real bummer, but I understand the decision. I will still listen to the pod and read your posts. I hope it's a much more peaceful time for you!
    1. Thank you, Harry! Already found peace :)
  26. Hi mate, I only follow about 3 accounts on Twitter, you being one of them! I followed you from the early days of the FC sand have always enjoyed what you had to say. These weirdos on Twitter do not represent our club, and I can’t imagine they ever attend games..I’m sorry you had to experience any mistreatment and I personally will miss reading ur insight. Take care and COYS
    1. Thank you, James! Appreciate the support.
  27. Truly Sorry to read this and sorry to hear you feel you have to leave twitter. I always enjoyed reading your tweets i may not have agreed with everything but respected it was your opinion. Hopefully you will be back someday but i agree with what you say about how toxic twitter has come. Look after yourself and ill still be listening to the extra inch
    1. Thanks, Paul, for the comment and the support!
  28. Bit late, but I've just read this article. I found it quite moving. It articulates what a pit Twitter has become so, so well. I've an absolutely nothingy account, but even I find myself drafting and deleting tweets regarding Spurs (a club I've followed passionately for 30 years) for fear of being ganged up on by a bunch of football avi kids. I hope your move away brings you peace, clarity and above all else, enjoyment at speaking openly about whatever you choose to in the future.

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