CLEVELAND — Twitter can be a great place for news, but it also provides a place for critics to express their unfiltered points of view, especially to those in the public eye, like professional athletes.
Veteran Cleveland Browns left guard Joel Bitonio has found Twitter to be difficult to handle during the season, so much so that he goes dark on the social media outlet in an effort to minimize the distractions while preparing for games.
“Oh, I always stay off social media in season,” Bitonio said. “Well, I have Instagram, but Twitter’s just toxic, so it’s not good in-season.
“It gives everybody an opinion that sometimes, it’s funny because you’ll listen to the positive opinions on social media and be like, ‘Wow, they love me,’ and then, you’ll want to hate all the negative opinions, but in reality, it’s the same people giving the opinions.”
Bitonio said reading the opinions of others on Twitter can be “hard for the ego.”
“People want to look at it and they’re like, ‘Wow. They love me. They don’t love me,’” Bitonio said. “ It’s one of those things where I think it does more harm than good at this time, so it’s just one of those things a few years ago, it’s like, ‘You know what, in-season, I can deactivate my Twitter, then in the offseason, I’ll come back to it.
“I do miss out on some news stuff, though, because that’s kind of like my source of news, but it’s one of those things I decided to do and just try and stay focused on the task at hand.”
Bitonio says he gave up in-season Twitter engagement after the 2014 season, his first in the NFL.
“My rookie year, I was on way too much, and then, I think it was during my second year when I was like, ‘You know what? Let’s stay off,’” Bitonio said. “I got hurt, and I was like, ‘Let’s stay off this. We don’t need that in your life.’”
Bitonio seemed especially glad to have stepped away from Twitter during the season because the inconsistencies on offense have led to a 2-3 record and a pair of four-score blowouts, one to the Tennessee Titans in the season opener and the other at the San Francisco 49ers earlier this week.
But with a solid week of practice leading up to Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Bitonio believes the Browns can right the ship before going on the annual bye week break.
“We’ve had a game where we feel like we’re on top of the world. Next game, you’re embarrassed out there,” Bitonio said. “It’s one of those things where we have to focus and we have to build on our successes. We can’t let any of that affect the way we attack the week.
“It’s one week at a time. This league is so week to week and it humbles you if you’re not ready for it. We have to come out every week like it’s the most important game, focus on ourselves, improve every day in practice and be confident and ready to play.”