Hutson Mason composed his last message to his 24,152 Twitter followers on July 18.
Don’t expect to hear from the Georgia quarterback on the social media site until well into the new year. Despite the Bulldogs’ convincing victory on Saturday, the abuse that can come from both fans and foes cloaked in the anonymity of a username has pushed Mason and some of his teammates to step away from the keyboard.
A quick search of his name shows users comparing him to Aaron Murray, claiming he looks like Chris Hemsworth or making fun of his name, all since Saturday’s game.
“Hutson Mason has a weak arm,” one user said.
“Hutson Mason needs to make better decisions,” said another.
Well, Hutson Mason can’t hear you.
“I know there’s several other guys that get off social media,” Mason said. “I just think that the quarterback position is probably one of the most you see because the quarterback position is the one who takes the blame; he’s the one who takes the credit. No one blames the left guard for a bad game.”
If history is any indication, Mason has a valid point.
Georgia’s coaches bring in folks to talk about proper media relations and to specifically address social media behavior and how players should conduct themselves online. The same cannot be said for the thousands of fans following any one of them.
“People are crazy this day and age,” Mason said. “You get death threats, you get, ‘I’m going to burn your house,’ they’re going to steal your scooter.”
Although many of those threats are just that — threats — one house of Georgia football players saw the abuse hop from their computer screens to their front yard.
In the wee hours of Oct. 7, 2012, former Bulldogs Aaron Murray, Christian Robinson, Ty Frix, Arthur Lynch and Dustin Royston returned to the home they shared in Athens after a tough 35-7 loss in Columbia, S.C.
They found the facade of their house egged, the paint around their door the casualty of the vandalism. The material damage was nothing like that of a burned-down home, but the emotional harm was just as great.
Although that assault was out of the athletes’ control, what guys like Mason, running back Todd Gurley and safety Corey Moore can control is the verbal negativity to which they are subjected.
Gurley followed Mason’s lead a day before Clemson came to town, tweeting: “Bye Bye Twitter fam see you next year sometime (peace sign emoji).” He stayed off Twitter last season, too.
Moore hasn’t tweeted since the Heat lost the NBA Finals in June. “It’s just a shame … some of these things they say to use negatively,” Moore said. “It’s still true fans out here though.”
The way Mason puts it: No need to give a 12-year-old from rural Georgia a punching bag onto which he can project his rage.
“While I appreciate the advice of the fans,” he said sarcastically, “… you really just stay in a bubble. You try and stay focused on you because if you’re reading all this junk about how good or how bad you are, it takes a toll on you.”
Not everyone signs out for the season. Linebacker Amarlo Herrera will sometimes reply to the toxic tweets, although not immediately following a game. After hearing that the defense he helped lead last year was “an embarrassment to Georgia,” he would feel the need to defend his unit.
So far, Georgia players’ mentions have been relatively tame given their rout of Clemson. A 45-21 victory will keep the fans at bay, at least until the Bulldogs travel to South Carolina in two weeks. No matter what happens then or during any other game this season, Mason will comfortably remain in his self-imposed bubble. Sort of.
“I’m still on Instagram,” he said.
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