It doesn’t take a genius -- or even a dim-witted newspaper columnist -- to know that the practice of communicating in 2013 is nothing like it was a decade ago.
Go anywhere, and you’ll see people with their noses buried in their smartphones and other electronic devices. The concept of being out of touch is about as common as seeing a dinosaur roaming the wilds.
The Internet, with all its attendant devices, has opened a world of opportunity for people to explore new universes. Our lives are richer for it. But it’s also provided an opportunity for two kinds of people to spout off -- those who believe they’re experts on practically any subject, and those who are soreheads, dissatisfied with practically everything they encounter in life.
Let’s talk about those experts first.
If you’re a hard-core sports fan, then you surely know what message boards are. If you don’t follow sports, you might know, anyway, for they exist in many formats. Message boards are Internet forums in which people express their opinions about nearly any subject, and they are particularly prevalent in the world of sports.
Bear Bryant, the former Alabama mastermind -- perhaps the greatest college football coach ever -- once observed that every man believes he knows how to grill a steak and coach a football team.
It might be fortunate that he never lived to see the era of message boards, because Bear probably wouldn’t take kindly to the constant second-guessing he’d be getting from the message board world.
Of course, it applies to fans of every school, not just Alabama or Notre Dame or Southern Cal or even Slippery Rock.
Spread across our country, coast to coast and stadium to stadium, are guys who believe they should be standing on the sidelines every Saturday, making decisions that coaches like poor old Steve Spurrier are too stupid to make. Most of these people have never coached anything beyond their sons’ rec-league games.
But make no mistake. They’re experts, at least in their own minds.
I’m just using Spurrier as an example, because in addition to winning a national championship, he’s done what no other man has ever been able to do: make South Carolina a power in the football world.
It’s the same with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney or Alabama coach Lou Saban or any others. As you’re reading this, there are football fans posting on message boards around the country, declaring what those coaches have done wrong and what the posters would be doing to change things if they were in charge.
Now don’t get me wrong. For generations, guys have sat around and talked about games and strategies and outcomes. It’s part of being a fan.
And with multi-million-dollar salaries for coaches, you might be saying they’re fair game for criticism. And you’re right.
Too, there are certainly lots of reasonable people on message boards, those who like to exchange opinions and catch up on their favorite teams.
But the boards have given a shade of recognition to the more extreme -- a stage and a microphone, so to speak -- no matter how bizarre their opinions might be.
Instead of sitting in a bar blowing hot air with a few of their buddies, they now have an audience of thousands. Any many of them want to take full advantage of it.
Most of these self-professed experts aren’t subtle. They’re more like sledgehammers. And they aren’t afraid to tell it the way they see it.
It’s the same with basketball. There are guys out there who believe that if they only had a chance, they could really show Coach K how to run a high-post offense.
(Hey, I don’t mean to leave women out of this. There are some females who are just as obnoxious as males on sports message boards, but they’re relatively few.)
Earlier, I mentioned the Internet being a spawning ground for both experts and soreheads, but I’ve gone and used my allotted 600 words without even getting to the soreheads -- people who’ve never been in a restaurant or a hotel or a movie theater they liked. They’re another story altogether, and that will have to wait.
In the meantime, I’m thinking I’ve got a couple ideas for Coach Spurrier on how he should use Jadeveon Clowney next year, so you’ll have to excuse me. I’m late for my message-board appointment.