As a boy growing up in the L.E.S. in the 90s, I quickly learned that the Knicks were us--they were New York--Oak outhustling the opposition; Mason gritty as the sidewalk; Starks going from pauper to prince to Game 7 grief. And that MJ was to be feared but never revered; and that Reggie was to be plain hated (LJ 4eva). We loved those Knicks like they were our cousins, or our cousins' cousins, or our local neighborhood celebrities. Even when they broke our hearts, we were proud. My mom wouldn't get us cable because she thought too much TV was bad, but finally relented because she identified with Starks, she too had bagged groceries to make ends meet, and had then risen up from those conditions to thrive professionally, through talent and sheer stubbornness. In short, the Knicks represented New York, and however proud or let down we were by them, they were ours. That's why I come here, to P&T, to talk Knicks with other people who love them, and love New York. But the love ain't here folks: the vibes are off. I want to know if we can make the comments section better, together.
First off, there's too much bad-faith argumentation. I'm talking about people not going in with an open mind, going in to drop their point harshly and peace out; or staging an extended back-and-forth which isn't responding in good faith to each other's points, is moving the yardsticks, getting nasty etc. I.e. if someone makes four points in their comment, people will respond to the one point they disagree with, and not acknowledge the others. We're losing the fact that life ain't black and white, it's gray. We're probably none of us entirely right or wrong, and there's things we have yet to learn. We're also forgetting, I think, that there's another human being on the other end, that we could have a serious or silly conversation with. That we have more in common with that person--a fellow Knicks fan, a fellow traveler in that glorious, quixotic quest--than we have different. That we're members of a community.
And I love this team, man. Don't you? These Knicks mostly play tough and care about winning and are skilled. That's more than we can say for almost a decade of Knicks teams. They went into OKC the other night and almost pulled out a 4th quarter road win against an up-and-coming contender, the 3rd seed in the West, and 90% of the comments section is criticism of Thibs not giving IQ enough minutes. Man, I'm frustrated about that, too, and seriously worried about RJ, but I'm also proud of how our guys went in there and played the Thunder tough down to the wire. Life ain't all a bowl of cherries, sure, but we can take the good with the bad. There's an imbalance, a sourness to the comments section that is turning me away.
And then when we win, it's widely a chance for people to score points in long-standing argument about this or that player. People are too busy sonning each other to celebrate a freaking win, FOH.
Debate is healthy--when it's healthy debate. When people are listening in good faith, with open minds, saying things in ways that other people can hear them. Our country is incredibly polarized right now politically--and don't get me wrong, sometimes you gotta punch a Nazi. But this ain't politics and none of us are Nazis (I hope). In a community of Knicks fans, why not talk to someone in a way that you'd also like to be talked to. Why not genuinely listen. Why not enjoy ourselves.
I've got a few pet theories why the vibes are off:
- Miranda was our moral authority and culture keeper, who reminded us just often enough to chill out and be respectful and enjoy the ride. That's hard to replace.
- There's a few very active commenters who only post critical things, and that pushes away others from participating.
- Social media has fostered this kind of one-line hot-take, rather than complex discussion.
- There have been a few articles recently that are kind of clickbaity, and purposefully or not, they stir shit up.
- Most of us are men, and as I see it, boys and men get encouraged to dominate, control, never show confusion or uncertainty or vulnerability, etc. I think it may be playing a role here.