If there's one thing I've learnt about social media is that no matter what you say, someone or the other is going to get pissed off. Most of us have come to expect and live with Salman, Modi, Kejriwal and Sachin fans wanting to kill us and our families for making fun of them. The past month however has led me to discover a new species – the football "fan".
I am not a football "fan". I don't follow the leagues, don't own a jersey, haven't gotten a picture taken inside a major stadium and do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of a particular team's history or politics. Since the mid 90s however I have spent half my father's money buying FIFA videogames, know the offside rule and follow the game every four years during the World Cup. As I learnt the hard way, that is unacceptable. Nothing pisses of a football fan on social media more than an amateur like me opining about "their" game. I love it.
This behavior is not unusual. Whether its music or movies, fans hate it when something they feel they "discovered" and is "cult" becomes mainstream. If more people start taking interest in the same thing that same object goes from being "theirs" to something that is owned by a collective. One sees an immediate attempt at trying to claim authenticity with regards to who is a "real" fan and who is just riding the bandwagon because it is cool. If millions of people suddenly started giving a toss about Jugal Hansraj, the three people who bought the Papa Kehte Hain DVD would get damn angry about their only identity being taken away. The weird thing here is that football is already as mainstream a corporate machine as one can get. Instead of being happy about more people following the sport fans are getting angry at the hundreds and thousands of posers only watching because it is a World Cup. It's like me shouting "STFU what do you know about comedy how dare you watch it" at someone watching George Carlin on Youtube just because I'm a stand up comic. Or Milkha Singh getting mad at fat people going on a morning walk every 1st January as part of their New Year resolutions.
I will still be the bigger person and apologise to all true football fans for ruining their World Cup experience. Some of us common folk faked our knowledge of the game to try and fit in this World Cup. We promise not to do this again till the next one. Don't worry about your annoyingly complicated domestic leagues; we'll be too busy with the IPL.