Social media networks are always a very mixed bag when it comes to professional athletes. Sites like Twitter and Instagram allow fans to get a glimpse into the lives of their favorite players and help make them feel more accessible. Unfortunately, that accessibility means it’s also quite easy for people to abuse and troll those same athletes.
It’s a very prominent problem in sports these days. You hear about players who are really struggling with the vitriol they see directed at them on their social media accounts with disappointing regularity.
Liverpool’s new signing, Darwin Núñez, has admitted that he has also had struggles with receiving hateful messages on social media in the past, and revealed his very simple solution.
“I used to look at the (social media) networks a lot - but then I saw comments that I didn’t like. They actually made me feel sick,” Núñez admitted in an interview with The Mirror. “The criticism started to get me down and I had to speak to the national team psychologist Axel Ocampo. He helped me a lot, but the answer was simple.”
“Now I don’t turn my cellphone on in the dressing room to read what is being said about me. I only turn my phone on after games to speak with my family and friends. I will only listen to the people who have been supportive.”
It’s a simple enough concept in theory, but it can be hard for players in practice. There’s nearly always an innate desire to know what people think about you. When social media makes it so easy to see, it can be hard for athletes to ignore it, even when they know they’re likely to see hateful, disgusting things.
For Núñez to go through that and have to find ways to block out the hate at such a young age is truly sad. But, his decision to ignore the temptation of checking social media to see what’s being said about him and instead speak with only those he knows will support him, whether he played well or not, shows a level of maturity and resolve that many other players would envy.