The All-Ireland football final replay on Saturday may be the most important event in the diaries of GAA fans week, especially those from Dublin and Mayo. Since Donegal’s exit from the competition, the GAA season ended more or less for me. I will certainly watch the rematch on television hoping that some sort of drama emerges. There are paid journalists who have to write about Gaelic football every day of the week. This cannot be good for their sanity unless they are completely immersed in and consumed by the sport. Fortunately for us, the readers, they are.
Thankfully, I am not a paid journalist, not even a journalist but, an opportunist who has a chance week in and week out to express my opinions on topics remote from football, especially in times when Donegal are not in action.
In my first sentence today, I mention “diaries”. Obviously, I am not alluding to a literal diary but, a metaphorical one. Last week I wrote about the dangers of using our mobile phones when driving. I used to keep a written diary when I was a young man. Who needs a written diary nowadays? Blogging, tweeting and Facebooking have become the norm. Very early last Sunday morning I listened to a discussion about social media on the radio. The panellists were revving about an article entitled ‘I Used to Be a Human Being’, An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too. By Andrew Sullivan.
When I joined Jim McGuinness in 2012 as part of his backroom medical team, I saw many huge changes from the time I played as an inter-county footballer for Donegal. One of the most striking was how the players interacted socially and how their smart phones played such a pivotal part of self-entertainment. This is not a criticism, merely a fact of modern youthful life. I was lost in this environment of virtual unreality. Our smart phones have impacted not only on the younger generations but, to a lesser degree on more mature individuals too. Facebook and Twitter are the most popular forms of connecting to the worldwide web of internet interaction. I too have a Facebook page and a Twitter account though, I’m intellectually deficient to comprehend the usefulness of the latter. My Facebook page was intended to be a business advert but I do post information in relation to other activities, mea culpa.
As human beings we instinctively crave attention, approval and affection. Many people believe that the internet can satisfy this instinct. Social media has enabled us to build a network of ‘friends’ that would be impossible to do in a physical way. Checking updates, likes, shares and retweets have become compulsions. Social media is a psychological crutch for those addicted to it just like alcohol or nicotine. Digital media within parameters is fine because true friendships can be found, contacts made and business accomplished. The down side far outweighs the positives however.
Take a look at any queue in a fast food restaurant for example. Everybody is crouched over looking at their phones. Walk any town street and people are talking to their device. Instead of verbally interacting when couples or families go for meals, the smart phone takes precedence over verbal interaction. People are passionate about gossip and news. The internet never fails to incessantly feed us with stuff that we are made to believe are relevant to our lives. Who really cares about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? We don’t see the world anymore, we don’t talk to each other anymore and we have lost that most basic natural skill of being human.
In respect of those who curate their lives on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, it’s not social media that’s the problem-it’s how we do it. We share our best moments and delete the worst. In fact, we are not ‘sharing’ anything-just showing others what make us look good. Imagine reading a book where nothing bad happens and where beautiful people do wonderful things. This would be a dull and boring read.
My autobiography will be launched on Saturday 22nd October in the Abbey Hotel at 8pm. Entitled ‘Confessions of a Gaelic Footballer’, I share the best and worst moments of my life and show that I am very human. The notion that ‘what’s said in the dressing-room should stay in the dressing-room’ is debunked through my very personal rendering of untold tales that will amuse the curious reader. Everyone has a story and mine is probably no different or less shocking than many others’. This is not yet another book about football. Of course, I write about my time as a club and inter-county player but, there is much more to life than sport.
All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Pieta, Donegal. Everyone is welcome to attend on the night where Anthony Molloy (1992) and Frank McGlynn (2012) will launch the book. Highland Radio’s Shaun Doherty will be MC on the night. Here’s the ironic part; check out social media for more details!