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A spirit that is not afraid

COLUMN | Is the Auburn Family chronically online?

Auburn fans hold up signs ahead of College Game Day's appearance on campus on Feb. 12, 2022.
Auburn fans hold up signs ahead of College Game Day's appearance on campus on Feb. 12, 2022.

It’s what keeps people coming back. It’s the reason for the awe-inspiring wins and gut-wrenching losses. It carries on legends, traditions and culture. It represents so much and extends so far. It is the Auburn Family. 

The Auburn Family is not just a saying. It can be felt on game days, within traditions and in every off-campus “war eagle.” There is a disparity between the face-to-face Auburn Family and the online presence of the Auburn Family, though. 

This can be traced to Auburn’s Twitter mob — the online fanbase that replies to the losing team’s score post with hundreds, even thousands of memes. It originated during the frenzy of the 2021-2022 men’s basketball season that ended with a regular season SEC championship title. 

While it conveys school spirit, the Auburn Family’s online presence can start to have symptoms of being “chronically online,” especially when it is negative. 

“Chronically online” is an emerging term in social media culture. Urban Dictionary defines it as: “Someone who is so absorbed into online life and discourse that they become unfamiliar with things off the internet. They may also form opinions and arguments that have no meaning, actual importance or depth outside of the internet and online spaces.”

Being labeled as “chronically online” suggests that an individual is overly-argumentative, has unrealistic expectations and lacks understanding about how the world really works. 

Auburn’s self critical comments, raging speculations and venting of disappointment and frustration can quickly slip into a pattern of being “chronically online.”

Some hold the opinion that Bo Nix, Auburn’s quarterback from 2019 to 2021, was “cyber bullied” into transferring to Oregon. The memes about him were incessant and unforgiving, and some continue to this day. 

Head football coach Bryan Harsin’s personal reputation was almost destroyed when the online fanbase started spreading rumors that he was having an affair in the spring 2022. The tension was high for a  few weeks, but it was eventually resolved and dismissed. 

Instead of defending their coach and team, Auburn’s online fanbase largely embraced the rumors and ran with hysteria.

Used in unison with the label “chronically online” is the saying “you need to touch grass.” 

Urban dictionary defines this phrase: “When someone is delusional or acting unrealistic, like they don't know how the world works anymore, this is a way to tell them they need to get offline and experience the ‘real’ world.”

The “grass” that Auburn’s online fanbase needs to touch is the grass of Samford lawn on a sunny day, the Quad Green during tailgating hours, Toomer’s Corner after a win and maybe even Pat Dye Field during an intense matchup. 

Doing so will remind them of the reality that Auburn is an amazing place to be and an incredible family to be a part of.  

Playing football is extremely difficult, and not many can do it — let alone do it perfectly. Auburn fans love Auburn as a whole, not just when their teams are winning. This is obvious when someone is in-person, but being online can eliminate sympathy and remembrance for that special, indescribable atmosphere. 

The reality of Auburn is that it is a home for many people, a real family. 

This was displayed recently at the 2022 Homecoming football game against Missouri. The stands were packed. The tailgates were full of parents and fans new and old. The band brought smiles to everyone’s faces. The game gave fans sunburns and a few new gray hairs. The football gods orchestrated a legendary ending. Toomer’s Corner got rolled. It was an iconic, yet traditional day that the Auburn Family enjoyed.

The online version of the Auburn Family has the potential to be positive; everyone saw it during basketball season last year. It could unite the family further and make it reach to even greater lengths across the world. 

But even the eagle needs to touch grass eventually. 

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Getting out of the endless Twitter strings — no matter how funny or true they are — is necessary to experience the sweet reality of being a member of the Auburn Family. 

It is a family that values loyalty, camaraderie, humor, superstition, school spirit, quality sports, connection, hard work, tradition, inclusion, service, respect, bravery, honor and happiness. It is made up of true Auburn women and men who carry these principles from the Loveliest Village on the Plains, and who unite in endless places around the world. 

This story can be found in our Fall 2022 Sports edition, in stands and online now.

Sami Grace Donnelly | Columnist

Sami Grace Donnelly, sophomore in journalism, is a columnist at The Auburn Plainsman.


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