Lessons from the Jay Cutler Story


by Jason Krump 02-03-2011 10:45 PM

Not that there needs to be another piece on the Jay Cutler saga, especially now that it seems the furor has died down (unless you are a Chicago Bears fan, like me), but the story does offer lessons about the ever-increasing influence of social media and the power of perception.

First a couple of disclaimers.
 
1)          As I have already mentioned, I am a die-hard Bears fan which leads to…
2)          …that I, too, joined the multitude of fans, who offered their thoughts via Twitter on Cutler leaving the Jan. 23 NFC Championship Game.
 
So what motivated me to express my opinion?
 
Maybe I needed to vent from the disappointment of seeing my team miss out on the Super Bowl; but in all honesty, it was an effort to be clever with the hopes of seeing my thoughts retweeted to the masses.
 
So I joined the multitude of other “experts” weighing in on the topic with this tweet after the game:
 
I may go see a movie this afternoon. Maybe True Grit or The Fighter, since I saw neither in Jay Cutler today.
 
However, after a couple of hours I decided to remove it.
 
I removed it because with that tweet I had become a hypocrite. I had become what I have criticized other people of doing, which is forming a judgment on others without knowing the facts.
 
Of course, that didn’t stop thousands of others from expressing their opinions of Cutler. Most surprising in these expressions of outrage was from Cutler’s NFL peers.
 
Through their tweets, I now know what other NFL players think of Cutler, and I wondered why so many gave a negative opinion about him and were so eager to share it?
 
And for the fans, like me, why would we be so eager to spout off on the topic?
 
Could it be the way people perceive Cutler, driving them to form a quick conclusion, and then use the tool of social media as a means to express their views immediately?
 
I don’t know Jay Cutler or have any firsthand knowledge of him. What I know is what I see and observe in the media.
 
I’m not going to make the same mistake twice in this column and make a determination on his toughness. But his public persona is that of a man who is aloof and indifferent, and it was those traits that many perceived to witness on the sidelines during the second half of the NFC Championship, with what they viewed as a questionable injury.
 
It is true in any walk of life: Perception is reality.
 
And it is a reality that is played out immediately, thanks to social media.
 
What if the Cutler story happened 25 years ago? How different would have it played out? It leaves me to wonder how the media would have covered this story if social media did not exist?
 
The new age of Twitter and Facebook has allowed people to express their opinions in an immediate fashion, and in the case of athletes, without the filter of the media.
 
And when so many people express similar viewpoints in such a small window of time, it has to be true. Right?
 
At the beginning of that Sunday, I was hopeful of celebrating a Bears’ Super Bowl trip, but at day’s end, I was presented with a seminal moment that reinforced two points: The power of social media and the power of perception.
 
And I was left with the question of not what does this say about Jay Cutler, but what does it say about us?

Published 02-03-2011 © 2022 Access Athletes, LLC


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