By Garrett Sisson
(Sherman’s professional identity, frequently mistaken for his personal identity)
Richard Sherman, a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, grew up in the ghettos of Compton, California. He achieved excellence in high school, earning him acceptance into Stanford University where he graduated with a 3.9 GPA. On the football field, Sherman is known as an aggressive, unruly, uncontrollable animal. People that don’t truly know him have bashed him for his intensity, used racial slurs to characterize him, and exclaimed how poor of a role model he is to young children. As a professional football player and celebrity, Richard Sherman doesn’t have the ability to have personal relationships with everyone in efforts to deter pungent beliefs. Twitter has allowed Richard Sherman to redefine his identity, from an ignorant football player to an intelligent, compassionate man.
Cyborg Theory, as explained by Donna Haraway, is the idea that a union of technology and body can empower people to find their true selves. The theory is not insisting that technology is physically a part of someone but rather that technology and body have a strong relationship, i.e. interaction with computers, mobile devices, social media, etc. When relating this theory to celebrities, nearly all of them are cyborgs due to the constant media attention, the social networking interaction, and the inability to escape from technology. It is nearly a requirement for celebrities to have a strong union of technology and body. Some might view this as a negative, but Richard Sherman has used this to benefit himself and his identity. Through the connection he has with technology, Sherman has allowed himself to redefine his identity through Twitter. His account is a part of who he is, and it provides a stronger reflection of his personal identity to balance his professional one.
After the NFC Championship game, a man tweeted at him telling him he is a poor role model for children. Sherman showed his true character by respectfully responding to the tweet, discussing how his successes are good examples for children. A young woman tweeted at him, stating her mother was in the ER and in poor condition. Sherman replied to her tweet, “hope she feels better,” giving the public another example of his true character. Racial slurs should not be expressed towards a man who acts with such genuine character. His connection with technology has empowered him to express his true self to the world through social media.
Society is very quick to make assumptions about celebrities based on one incident. Often times, people don’t consider their background and learn about who they truly are. Twitter has contributed to eliminating bad reputations by allowing users to express their true character. There is always the possibility for people for take advantage of this and create a false identity, but for the sake of genuine users, people must have faith that the truth will always shine through the cracks. Celebrities only have so many chances to create a public image: Richard Sherman has embraced his relationship with technology by using Twitter, allowing everyone to see his true identity.