Q: What do you think about Stewart Donald’s decision to leave Twitter?
Tom Atkinson says...
On one hand it feels unfortunate, yet on the other there’s a sense of inevitability about the whole situation.
I think Stewart Donald had the best intentions in using the platform as a way to engage with fans who had been let down by the previous regime. Initially, it was pretty successful as he debunked myths, gave updates, and generally interacted well with the fanbase. However, looking at the situation from a distance, you could see a backlash was inevitable when things weren’t going Sunderland’s way - and that’s what has happened.
In general, social media can be a really disturbing place. Donald opening himself up to the fanbase was always running the risk of people lashing out at him with the anonymity afforded by sites like Twitter. I genuinely think you should have to sign up for social media with some form of government identification and not be allowed to hide anonymously behind an unidentifiable account.
Sometimes, Donald didn’t help himself either as he engaged with people that weren’t looking for reasonable debate. He also reacted rashly on a few occasions, too, leading to fans raising their eyebrows at his responses.
Ultimately, I think that despite the fact he went into this with genuine intentions, it’s best that he has removed himself from an inflammatory environment that will allow him to take a step back and analyse the situation at Sunderland without hundreds of fans tagging him in the comments section of various Sunderland-related articles, or sending him abuse.
It’s a shame, but perhaps it’s for the best if he communicates solely via the SAFC social media channels. A bi-weekly newsletter or vlog update could well be the way to move forward if he wishes to remain in contact with the fanbase.
Tom Albrighton says...
Whilst it’s pretty sad that it has come to this, Stewart Donald leaving Twitter is probably for the best. Sunderland-related twitter is rapidly becoming a cesspit of its own creation - niggly posts and 240 characters of scathing vitriol almost incessantly have created an environment where the owner isn't able to use the platform as he likes.
A real issue has also been Donald’s reactions to challenges and tough questions, leading to many taking a view of if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
All in all, what was once a useful tool to connect fans to club has now become a target of frustration and self vindication. It’s not an environment the owner can survive in.
Personally I believe that his departure from the platform is for the best - tying himself in knots, reacting to the most kneejerk takes and so on has rendered Stewart’s position on Twitter untenable. Whilst the timing may seem a bit odd, and the loss of some good access to the club for all supporters will be lost, losing Donald from Twitter is for the best - he’d became a red rag to a bull.
Phil Butler says...
In short, it’s probably for the best.
Whilst Stewart’s social media interactions were amazing when he had just bought the club, and he was able to help out fans when coaches broke down and so on, the down side to it all was starting to get a bit much, and I think that’s something Donald has realised. Last week he let slip via Twitter that there would be an update to give regarding the club’s ownership situation before any news was given through the club’s official channels.
For me this is an opportunity to form a bit of a compromise.
Regular columns in the match program, or the club website - or through fanzines/podcasts - should take the place of a Twitter account where questions mount up on a daily basis that simply cannot be replied to. If he is serious about giving off the impression of a ‘one club mentality’, surely the place to start is by all contact between the club and the fans going through official channels, not the personal social media account of the man at the top.
Damian Brown says...
I think it’s a crying shame when all is said and done. It could be argued that social media is inherently anti-social, in that it allows strong opinions to be broadcast without any consequences usually associated with spouting off at the mouth in public. Twitter in particular is a haven for morons, and so it wouldn’t really be true if we said that deleting your Twitter account could ever be a bad thing.
That being said, as a popular forum for pretty much everyone, there exists the opportunity to use it in a simple fashion to at least give the appearance of fan engagement. Having a Twitter account and using it isn’t the issue for Stewart Donald or anyone else; being able to control himself on it is the issue.
It’s a simple solution to a simple problem - if you’re going to use social media, don’t act surprised when you get dog’s abuse, and don’t bite back at all of these random strangers that feel they can say whatever they please. For us “normies” our insecurity and unhappiness can be contagious, and it can spill into things like Twitter and Facebook with every inane status update and unwanted opinion. As a multi-millionaire in a position that most of us dream of, wouldn’t you rather be diving into a vat of money and having supermodel mixologist dancers playing naked chess in your batcave or something?
I just can’t see why you would get worked up at the half-formed thoughts of the unwashed masses if you had better things to do.