How Deontay Wilder’s IG Post Says More About Social Media Than Him
A major uptick in extreme opinions has cultivated the world’s consciousness over the past ten years coincidently so has the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
Is this is an inconvenient consequence, or is this a foreshadow of the modern world as we head into the world of self-driving cars, and virtual workspaces?
Okay, so I am a boxing blog, so why are we starting with social media, and a rhetorical question? Seriously?
Simple, Deontay Wilder’s Instagram video over the weekend, which seemed ripped from the realms of the deep web.
In the video put forth, see above, Wilder accuses Tyson Fury, who knocked him out in a pay-per-view fight in February of 2020, of cheating. Wilder makes claims that Fury had an egg weight in his glove and called the former boxer, and ex-coach, Mark Breland “disloyal”. For those unaware, Breland, was the man who threw the towel in the bout, and showed compassion for Wilder, who looked seemingly helpless in the bout getting mauled by Fury, in a manner that was becoming scary, in my opinion.
We can look at all aspects of that, but honestly, Michael Woods did that far better than I can, and you should read his piece on the whole situation around the camp, as Woodsy is one of the best modern boxing writers, and this piece is quite interesting, and show his talents as a writer and storyteller.
If you don’t pay for a product, you’re the product. Social media functions as a way to get information based on your habits and create predictive trends that align with companies that are paying them for ad revenue. From the way you interact with an app, the way you go to read a message or notification, to what is shown to you, all can change your perception of the world. Social media is a business built on creating an addiction, of keeping you engaged on their app while fueling your ego and interests in many ways to keep you wanting more.
At social media best it affords you new abilities and is a massive time-saver, at its worst, it creates an insulated bubble of opinions that strictly align with your own. Instead of being challenged by rival opinions, you can now just live within the confines and comfort of what you already believe. If someone disagrees, block them, or mute them, and you will never see them again.
When watching Wilder’s IG video, I couldn’t help but think of the months and months of being asked about the glove situation at boxing gyms, and having 15-year-old boxers alerting me to YouTube videos made in humble means with elaborate and might I add compelling plots of deception and deceit towards Wilder. These videos might lead one to think Wilder was one of those watching these said videos, and not unlike any cultural icon, speaking to a fringe group, something we see more and more often these days, it felt as though Wilder was speaking directly to these groups, who have vehemently defended him after the Fury loss.
The nature of the internet is inherently creepy, as even search engines such as Google show you different content based on your region. For example, type in “global warming” or “pizza gate”, and the suggested finish to this sentence will be different based on your region. In a more liberal area, global warming friendly text prompts appear, in a conservative region, narratives about falsehoods around it. In essence, now more than ever, you can live in your own beliefs more so, than ever, and working from home, has had people on these platforms more than ever.
When the news of the Wilder-Fury glove controversy first happened, I just assumed it was passionate fans, who didn’t like the outcome of the fight. It became more than that, as I began to get asked more and more questions about it, from DMs to phone calls, so forth, and so on, it was getting traction. Now, I won’t dismiss the claim, but I also hold the sanctioning bodies, commission, and those involved in high regard, and find it hard to believe utter failure occurred on such a marquee bout. It is hard to believe something could happen at the highest level of the sport, with so much money on the line, and so many eyes on the sport.
Is it possible? Sure. Do I believe it happened? No.
Though for those that think it is, all just crying wolf. We have had instances of foul play in the sport, and boxing does shoot itself in the foot often. Case-and-point, when Brother Nazim Richardson, caught Antonio Margarito with hand wraps deemed illegal before his fight with Shane Mosley. Mosley would then go on to stop Margarito in a transcendent performance.
The only difference is, we have nothing sustainable. It is simply a claim, but boxing has few if any investigative journalist. Our gold standard is Mark Kriegel, who focuses on narrative arcs, and most of the other writers focus more on the out-of-the-ring antics, or just depict what they saw, as much like a free safety in the NFL, we see very few writers who are hybrids and more so writers who are a scheme fit for certain websites.
The fear with these type of claims from high-profile fighters are, that outlandish claims and hot takes, fuel and get traction on social media. The internet is built on extremes, and if something is outlandish enough it will be picked up. In short, this type of content will be watched more than many achievements based on the way social media is monetized, and because of that will shift our language, and what we deem normal in a conversation over time if we allow it
How this video is received and reviewed, will now be ground zero, for future cases, and the acceptance or lack of acceptance will bring forth how it will enable fighters in the future.
We already have a biased media section. Shoot, it took me years to be unbiased myself. Whether a promoter or network pays a high-profile writer to contribute to their content brand, a writer gets access via a promoter to give them an advantage over others so they promote certain agendas, or an outlet just flat-out feels reactionary to the hatred they have felt from the past, and wish to wage war against the opposite opinions. It is hard to get content in boxing, that is truthful or depicts what you’re seeing. Sadly, isn’t that just the world we live in?
Nothing is transparent anymore.
As we enter, the last months of one the bleakest years of my life, 2020, we see a more divided world, and a boxing community that is giddier around social media videos with “Q-Anon”-like ideas, than the fist-fights we have grown-up watching. It truly feels as though we’re slowly starting to see an undercurrent of boxing coverage, that has nothing to do with boxing, but about paranoia and sheer anger, and finding ways to profit off it. The sport will still be here, but will the voices explaining the sport, that need to be heard, be the loudest in this new world?
This will not be the first nor the last, but it is worth noting.
Tread lightly as we move forward. The world is a new place.