Mikel Arteta accepts that it’s a sad fact of life that those in the public eye – like footballers and managers – will come in for abuse via social media.
However, as he revealed that he’d had to deal with threats leveled at his family, he urged people to think about how they interact with others online.
The Arsenal manager knows that their profession, and the various platforms on which they can be reached by the public, means there will be always be criticism, but he wants everyone to think about how far they go with their words.
He admitted he doesn’t play close attention to what’s directed at him via his own social media accounts, but knows that young players in particular can be impacted as they have a much more active online presence.
“I think if we read everything that was written about us we’d probably have to stay in bed a lot of days,” he said.
“It’s part of it, I think it’s great that people have the ability to communicate on so many platforms and give their opinions. The only thing I’m asking is to be respectful, you know?
“Do it in a respectful way, you don’t have to batter anybody or try to hurt anybody. Yeah, just give your opinion with the best intentions and when it’s constructive I think everybody can take criticism.
“It’s part of our job to look at it and think and reflect on it but when people just have the intention of hurting, that’s when it becomes a little bit silly in my opinion. It’s just finding that balance.
“There are a lot of positives, but I think there are things we can do better as well.”
Arteta didn’t go into great detail about his own personal experiences, but made it clear that while he accepts he’s in a position which will draw personal abuse, he and the club had to deal with more far-reaching, and potentially threatening, interactions.
“I’d prefer not to [speak about it] but I think we’re all exposed to that in this industry,” he continued.
“That’s why I’d prefer not to read it because it would affect me personally much more the moment that somebody wants to [harm] my family.
“Because it happened, the club was aware of it and we tried to do something about it. That’s it. We have to live with it.
“It’s not going to stop tomorrow, we know that, but medium or long-term can we do something about it? That’s what I am pushing for.”
His words come in the same week when Joe Willock highlighted how online abuse can have a detrimental impact on some young players, particularly those who don’t have the right support structures around them.
“There’s so much pressure on you already because you are playing for Arsenal at 19-20 [years old]. That’s my job, my job is in the limelight. You have all that pressure already and then you are getting these messages as well, it’s crazy,” he told Newcastle’s in-house channel
“It’s crazy what it can do to a young player. It didn’t affect me that much because I have a really good team behind me that helps me deal with this sort of things. For other people, it could be really detrimental to their careers.
“It’s hard to deal with it, unless you have a good team around you. It’s virtually impossible. When you are on social media, it comes.
“They tag you, they message you directly – it’s always in your feed, always in your face. It’s so hard to get rid of it.”
Words to ponder from the boss, and a young player who has always given his best for the team when called up.