Football and politics feed us sh*te every day but we don’t have to swallow

John Nicholson
Leeds fans with a Rishi Sunak blow-up doll
Leeds fans with a Rishi Sunak blow-up doll

League football has finished. Our daily lives take on a different flavour until August. I’m sure the election has already exhausted your patience and you’ve already made up your mind who to vote for; I’m left with the conclusion that the whole bloody thing is pointless except for a chance to personally insult a particular lying sh*t-muncher for making life worse.

I ignore everything, because lies and obfuscations and senseless stupidities are everywhere. The nest has been profoundly shat when people won’t vote for someone because they’re not perfect and their party isn’t perfect, as though their vote is their precious virginity.

Most of us vote for the least worse, and that’ll have to do. You’ll never find anyone who isn’t in some way compromised, so stop waiting for someone to come and deliver us into the arms of nirvana. You’re not perfect, don’t expect anyone else to be. It’s childish. Like someone stopping supporting their club because they’ve all got terrible tattoos.

Almost worse are the slack-jawed vox pops, which only serve to show how stupid TV news programmes and some people are, as they come out with uninformed drivel. I saw one who appeared to have been in a coma for 18 months who thought the lying, amoral bag of washing Boris Johnson was still PM. How can that be? How can you be so out of touch and why proffer them as an example of public opinion? Another couple were voting Tory ‘because they brought in food banks and people are so poor they need them’. Terminally stupid. I despair.

It’s not fair on us that our future’s are in part geared by such people. It’s increasingly like those pointless post-game interviews which TV pretends are interesting or that people even want.

If that’s democracy, it’s unsustainable and invalid. Too many of the electorate has already proven itself to be too thick to judge anything properly and to be honest, they don’t want to have to make choices. These are the ‘they’re all the same’ people. That is plainly not true. It’s just an excuse not to make a decision.

But I suppose they’re better than the firm-minded who have swallowed one party’s lies whole and don’t seem to realise it’s all been made up for some imagined effect and not thought through at all and they’ve rightly been taken for a fool, but think their delusion is wisdom. That and the London-only neurotics who don’t realise how much the rest of us don’t care about London culture, know it’s a law unto itself, think it is only reflective of itself and look upon its obsessions with a withering gaze.

The wilfully stupid, they drag everything down. Every fan already knows Twitter/X is full of bulls*it and bullies. If the election teaches us anything in the football community, it should be that Twitter or X is a total waste of time. It’s full of egotistical loons who are keen to paint themself ‘In The Know’ as a kind of sage who we should all look towards for the truth. Liars, bullshitters, pointless cretins. They’re all here.

In politics and football you see some really stupid views. I’m sure you got your favourites. Mine is one nutter who ‘heard’ that Alan Shearer was standing to be Mayor of Newcastle and that Gary Lineker was a communist and Lucy Bronze, born in Berwick, was therefore Scottish and didn’t qualify for England on the basis that Berwick plays in Scottish football. All argued with defensive indignation and with certainty. Yeah, hide the scissors.

It’s not about the actual truth and understanding, it’s about how much attention you can grab. I’m not sure why. Perhaps such people feel they don’t exist without it. Yet so many of us, including me, are drawn to it, in voyeur mode.

Life would definitely be better if social media didn’t exist. It is easily the most pernicious force in modern life and it seems to have leaked its attitude into everything.

Sports journalists write some loud and wildly stupid things just so it can be clipped up into a meme. Again, truth doesn’t matter, just level of attention. Once that becomes the be all and end all, it’s a race to the bottom and vacuous stupidities are made simply for clicks. We’re all complicit.

You might want me to write about the fascist influence on the 1938 World Cup. But a piss-take about Antony will be way more popular. This is something populists have learned. More people want the shallow rather than the deep. Just look at the once respectable, albeit right-wing, newspaper the Daily Telegraph. It now resembles the journalistic standards of The National Enquirer with people working as client journalists for a certain kind of right-wing stupid. Easily digested pieces rather than informed nuance form much of it. Nonsense in a mask of respectability, feigning intelligent thought. People fall for it; that’s why they do it.

And when it comes to the internet which runs off ad money, the one which attracts more eyes wins. This is where we’ve got to. But it is uniquely dispiriting and narrow for anyone who wants more than just eating sugar. It may be a reflection of the majority however. So who is to blame really? It often seems stupid is more popular than intelligent, especially when you see something intelligent being insulted as being stupid.

You can’t win; if you write something popular, a mouth-breather who disagrees will not hesitate in calling it clickbait. Write something nuanced and intelligent, you will be dismissed as irrelevant because no one likes or responds. It doesn’t help that legacy media writers are, in some cases, trying to pretend they’re still relevant and powerful, when they’re just charged with writing sensationalist rubbish with Liverpool in the URL to attract as many clicks as possible. And yet they will pretend that’s not the case.

Ignore any comment that isn’t by someone you know – that was a piece of advice I received years ago and it remains true, though I find it hard not to insult Tory politicians because they actively hurt me, mine and ours and pretend it’s a good thing. Bastards. I know I’m not alone.

In this brief gap in the football, social media comes into its own, propagating lies, rumours, nonsense and trivia, with no or few hard facts to base anything on. The trouble is, there are positive things to be gained in comments by strangers in between the slurry of anger by people with like-minds, like the person who told me the place to buy the best Arbroath smokies from. And if you ignore Twitter, you miss that.

I suppose this is just a different platform for bizarre views expressed around the table in the bar, by your loopy friend, except on a global scale. But to base a warped view of something informed purely by that view is nothing but stupidity.

We should take the power away from such platforms, do better and not indulge our instincts for tabloid sensationalism and easy solutions in politics and football. Life is complex, multi-layered and nuanced. We are fed shite everyday; it’s our choice whether to swallow it.