"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." - Oscar Wilde
There is a thought leader in the sales world whom I follow closely and have a personal relationship with. He sometimes describes himself as abrasive and "not likable". He frequently comments on blog posts and responds to content in a voice which aims to disrupt the status quo and force readers to self-asses their personal thoughts and beliefs. I'm sure he'd admit there is some entertainment/shock-value mixed in, but as a whole, he is comfortable with his voice/message, and though such efforts, has become well-known (and respected) within the sales community.
I wonder if he would still have been able to gain this respect as a hockey player? Would this type of behavior be sustainable during a hockey game?
Ice hockey is a fast-paced, physical game (just ask ESPN broadcaster, John Buccigross). Because of the emotional nature of the sport, sometimes players take liberties with opponents who might not be as strong physically, or as quick witted mentally. Policing the game, there is an underlying "code" which implies players must be held accountable for their words and actions. Fighting is legal and pugilism within the game has maintained a consistent place at both the amateur and professional levels for over 100+ years.
Whenever you disagree with someone, you have the option of letting them know. If they don't agree with your opinion, they have the option to respond. That in itself is the definition of conflict. In hockey, based on the code, if I choose to voice my opinion, I must be willing to back up my words with actions. If a player insults an opposing player, he will most likely be challenged to a fight which he must accept. If he does not accept, he will be deemed a coward and he will lose credibility and respect from both his opponents and teammates.
The internet doesn't work this way. If you insult someone online, there's no need to answer for it. I once heard a comedian question what would happen if with every tweet, comment, and blog post there was an associated phone number, email, and home address of the author listed. Would people be more mindful of their words if with every comment came with the potential for a physical response?
The Jimmy Kimmel show has a segment called "Mean Tweets" where celebrities read aloud insulting things that were tweeted about them. I'm sure most of the time, the writer of the insulting tweet never thought the celebrity they were referencing would ever see the message. In order for the bit to work, they display the handle of the tweets' author for the whole world to see, removing the anonymity.
I wonder if these once anonymous authors feel any regret when their tweets are read aloud on national television by the person they were insulting. If nothing else, I bet they wish they had been more clever. Most of the humor comes from how trite and unimaginative the insults are.
What incentives someone to publish a "mean tweet" about someone they've never met in person?