Johnny Manziel-Why The Public and Johnny Football Need Each Other

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Johnny Manziel is one of us and his behaviors which at this point are being dissected ad infinitum are actually fairly ordinary as it pertains to the actions of our species.  He has not exhibited any new behaviors that are not part of being human.  In fact Manziel’s actions and his responses are pretty much run of the mill-as people are just people.

Moreover, Manziel has not done anything on a football field that others have not done before him. While he clearly seems to be a gifted athlete, Manziel’s performance on the field has brought nothing new to a game that has been around for ages.

Manziel plays football–some players are better than he, many are not as good, which makes him a gifted football player among other gifted athletes.

However, by  accomplishing what no one has ever done before, winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman accompanied by a compelling story, Manziel has been elevated to a status that not only has he appeared to embrace- but so have we. 

And we are churning Manziel’s story in a predictive cyclical manner that is reflective of a society in need of constant emotional stimulation- much in the manner the Roman Coliseum used to provide for the masses. Only ours is an electronic coliseum which brings instant satisfaction.

We live in a time where it seems that our emotional appetites to not only know about the actions and behaviors of others, but our need to react to them is at an all-time high. In combination with our lack of frustration tolerance and the inability to contain our emotions, it is quite the perfect emotional storm.

Our need for the media playground has become an addiction an addiction that requires more and more to be satisfied, as most addictions do. Given the technological tools at our disposal, we are able to get our fixes instantaneously.

Up goes a headline, we react to it, then we react to each other in a cycle that now seems to suit us well– providing a veritable emotional recycling program with unlimited resources.

The constant tweeting and posting to Facebook etc. has created one big emotionally expressive orgy with few private personal boundaries left to explore. Thus, for those who want to expose all, there should be, and cannot be any complaints about the ramifications that come with it. But we complain anyway.

In fact those who over expose themselves in this manner and venture into the emotional public vortex actually need to be engaged in a struggle that often makes them feel, needed, wanted alive and attended to.

Keep in mind negative attention is just as good as positive attention when you are desperate for it.  And there are a lot of people out there that are having difficulty containing and controlling their emotions.

There seems to be no ceiling for the need for people to be acknowledged, heard and feel important. And the free market has provided us with endless tools such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and so forth to help us fulfill our needs.

Moreover, for those that are not luminaries they too have a chance to be one as new stars are created daily. So why not take the chance because even if only a minor bit of attention is achieved—that is all that is needed to keep one feeling alive.

There has been some debate about which came first the chicken or the egg when it comes to what we view, use and consume in the media. But make no mistake about it, the entertainment media in- toto is in business to make money.

They then provide us with the information and entertainment we need which includes round the clock coverage of our sports stars. Thrown in with actors and actresses as well as reality personas you have one humongous round the clock emotional dumping ground.

It has become apparent that our emotional lives have in part become symbiotic with the needs of those we follow such as Manziel. That is, he requires attention and we give it to him which only reinforces his behaviors. When behaviors are reinforced regardless of their positive and negative consequences they are usually repeated.

On a deeper level many in the media universe have emotional reactions to what others have said.  Their reactive behaviors are no longer private they are there for all to see. And if they are not there for us to see they tell us about it anyway.  So back and forth we go feeding off and providing for each of other’s needs.

Where does it all end no one can tell as addicts we cannot seem to get off the treadmill and the next story is always waiting around the corner as we seek and need it. And the Johnny Manziel’s of the world seem quite eager to provide us with it, because after all Manziel is just one of us.

For more on Johnny Manziel please read http://psychologyofsports.com/2013/08/30/johnny-manziel-the-press-and-public-in-loco-parentis/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Richard Lustberg

About Dr. Richard Lustberg

Dr. Lustberg’s On The Couch Column, Blog and Psychology of Sports Podcasts are syndicated on the Internet. He is extensively quoted and published, and is the sole developer and creative force behind The Psychology of Sports. Dr. Lustberg has helped launch and host Psyched Up, a Psychological Podcast addressing pertinent psychological issues for the Suffolk County Psychological Association and Psychology And You for the New York State Psychological Association.

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