Process Post #6
In this week’s lecture, we were introduced to Seth Godin’s concept of a ‘tribe,’ which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” This prompted me to look into the idea a little more closely, as I believe it applies quite well to the digital sports communities that this site is intended for.
In his discussion on tribes, Godin notes that “a group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” With this in mind, I’m reminded of a tribe (or public) that I consider myself to be a member of, which is Canucks Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter for more than eleven years now, with the last ten of them dedicated almost entirely to reading and talking about the Vancouver Canucks.
As you can see in some of the tweets below, we regularly refer to ourselves as being part of or synonymous with Canucks Twitter. In some ways, we consider ourselves to be one unit.
In this regard, our leader would be considered the Vancouver Canucks, particularly the media and social media departments that present us with team news. Twitter is the means by which we communicate with one another over our shared passion for the Canucks and cheer together for their success.
However, as Godin elaborates on his blog, “over time, the tribe and the leader inevitably drift apart.” In my experience on Canucks Twitter over the past decade, especially in the last five years, this has been the case. Sure, we all have the same ultimate dream to see the team lift the Stanley Cup one day, but there are multiple counterpublics or within the Canucks public/tribe that have varying opinions on how the team is going about reaching that ultimate goal.
Most notably, there are two primary counterpublics within Canucks Twitter that deserve specific attention: #BenningBros and #FireBenning.
Jim Benning is the current general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, and has been in the position since the spring of 2014. When he first entered the position, the team was entering a rebuilding phase after being Stanley Cup contenders for a long time. The legendary Sedin twins were declining, all-star centre Ryan Kesler wanted out of town, and franchise goaltender Roberto Luongo had been recently traded away for an unproven prospect in Jacob Markstrom. In other words, Benning had his work cut out for him, and people were by and large willing to give him some time to do that work.
After a brief playoff appearance in 2015, however, the Canucks went on to miss the playoffs four seasons in a row under Benning, prompting many fans to call for his firing. This movement manifested itself under the #FireBenning hashtag, which continues to be of use and growing to this day.
This offseason in particular has been a mess for the Canucks after the loss of so many prominent and popular players. To make matters worse, the reason behind many of those lost assets was being unable to afford them as a result of brutal contracts handed out to bottom-six forwards in the past four years.
However, Benning still has his supporters, which many on Canucks Twitter refer to as the #BenningBros.
As a result, the tribe that is Canucks Twitter is no longer as united as it once was when I first joined in 2010. Mind you, the Canucks were one of the best teams in the league at the time, so there was little to critique. More than anything, we were just along for the ride.
A run to the second round of the playoffs this summer united fans in a way that we haven’t seen in years. By the time October came around, however, things were back to normal on Canucks Twitter, with the #BenningBros and #FireBenning camps dueling it out over his offseason decisions. Until the team wins a Stanley Cup or Jim Benning is relieved of his duties, it’s unlikely we’ll see either of these counterpublics disappearing in the future.