All it took was one emoji to expose the soul-sucking nature of covering sports today, where grown men and women with college degrees are forced to chase after inanity.
In a cryptic tweet Monday, Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas shared an eyeball emoji. Chaos ensued, with assistant general manager Mike Zarren saying roughly 20 reporters contacted him to ask whether the team was acquiring a new player. The NBA trade deadline is Thursday.
The journalists who reached out to Zarren were doing their due diligence. In 2017, a player’s social media activity can serve as a harbinger of major trades or free agent signings. Last summer, Thomas tweeted out the same two-eye emoji before the Celtics inked Al Horford to a five-year contract.
Though it’s possible Thomas was sending out a covert signal –– the Celtics also followed Carmelo Anthony on Instagram Monday night, along with Taylor Swift and Nike –– he may have been trolling the media. That appears to be what Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was doing last week when he told reporters he thinks the earth is flat. In today’s hyperactive news cycle, seemingly anything a famous person says is considered news, regardless of how absurd it is. Even though the science definitively says the earth is round, Irving’s comment was perhaps the biggest story during NBA All-Star Weekend.
“I think that there’s just so much, I guess — I don’t know if you can even call it news — there are so many real things going on, actual, like, things that are going on that’s changing the shape, the way of our lives,” Irving said Saturday, via ESPN. “And I think it sometimes gets skewed because of who we are in the basketball world, and, ‘Oh man, what does he actually think? Oh, no, I don’t like hearing … the world is flat, or he thinks the world can’t be round.’
“You know, I know the science, I know everything possible — not everything possible — but the fact that that actually could be real news, that people are actually asking me that — ‘It’s a social phenomenon. What do you think about it? Are you going to try to protect your image?’ I mean, it really doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. The fact that it’s a conversation? I’m glad that it got people talking like this: ‘Kyrie actually thinks the world is flat.'”
Sure enough, Thomas’ possibly innocuous tweet sparked headlines on countless sports blogs. We content curators are parasites, prepared to cultivate page views from meaningless drivel. It’s part of the feeding frenzy.
This phenomenon is nothing new. People have long been interested in what celebrities say and do. In today’s world, stars are more accessible than ever before. It makes sense for websites to report on nearly every detail of their social media activity. Thomas’ emoji may have meant absolutely nothing, but now, it’s a part of the Celtics trade deadline narrative. It doesn’t matter whether it actually is indicative of a forthcoming trade. He typed it with his thumbs, and that’s good enough.
Next thing you know, we’ll have a president who’s capable of controlling entire news cycles by firing off insane and erratic tweets. Oh, wait…