MELBOURNE, Australia – When Tennys Sandgren was traveling the Challenger circuit on his own, scratching out his living week to week, his Twitter account was of interest to only a few diehards.
There’s a fair-sized group of American players who appear to identify as Republicans. And in the current political climate, they are online targets.
But now that the 26-year-old from Tennessee is into the Australian Open quarterfinals as an unseeded player, his Twitter likes, reTweets and statements have come under a microscope.
Sandgren said he’s not concerned about it.
“Look, who you follow on Twitter I feel doesn’t matter even a little bit. What information you see doesn’t dictate what you think or believe. I think it’s crazy to think that. I think it’s crazy to assume that. To say, well, he’s following X person, so he believes all the things that this person believes, I think it’s ridiculous. I think that’s ridiculous,” Sandgren, in response to a question from Simon Briggs of the London Telegraph.
“That’s not how information works. If you watch a news channel, you wouldn’t then say that person who is watching the news channel thinks everything that news channel puts out. You wouldn’t think that,” he added.
Not on the alt-right
Sandgren did say that he does not support the alt-right movement, as numerous Tweets have extrapolated from the nature of what he has on his feed.
“I find some of the content interesting. But no, I don’t, not at all. As a firm Christian, I don’t support things like that, no. I support Christ and following Him. That’s what I support. Thanks, though,” he said.
The Tennessee native doesn’t see a reTweet as “any kind of engagement in that way dictates that you then are right in there with that particular person. I don’t think it works that way. I don’t see it as working that way.
“I mean, you can ask me about my beliefs on things, that’s cool. But I think to lump in and say, You follow this person, so then wow, who are you? Ask me who I am. I’m perfectly fine answering those kinds of questions,” he added.
As of Monday night, Sandgren (who has 6,599 followers), had twice as many “likes” (9,791) as actual Tweets (4,838).
Results bring scrutiny
With the additional attention the American is receiving because of his efforts in Melbourne, he’ll soon find that every word he types on the popular media platform will be parsed and discussed exponentially more.
Indeed, he gained 1,000 followers overnight. But as that was happening Sandgren looks to have spent considerable time overnight deleting all of his Tweets since Oct. 2016 – about 1,700 Tweets in all. He hasn’t purged his “follow” and “like” lists yet, though).
He said this to the New York Times in a later interview:
“We are definitely in an outrage culture where free speech doesn’t seem to be as free as it used to be. There are all kinds of restrictions people want to place on that.
“If you already think you are correct and there’s nothing else you can learn in life, then I think you are in trouble. I like to consume information. I like to learn. Would I consider myself alt-right, if you want to ask that question? No, I don’t. Not even a little bit. I think I am a pretty devout Christian, and I treat my walk with Christ very seriously, very seriously in a way that I’m constantly looking at the things I do and how that affects me existentially.
“I want to hear your side. I want to hear everybody’s side, and I want to learn, because I’m 26. Do I think I know everything about life? No.”