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It’s Coming Home: how a social media meme united a nation

17 July 2018

Everyone seems to know the score.

England at a World Cup always brings several guarantees: angry tweets about overpaid, underperforming players and clueless coaches that would rather be somewhere else.

A brief period of reluctant optimism by a nation of fans, replaced quickly by embarrassment as they crash out in disgrace.

“What were we expecting?” … “Of course England were going to get knocked out!” … “My nan’s bridge club could do better than these jokers!”

Except, this time, something strange happened.

The country stopped shouting at the team, and started singing for them again.

All thanks to a 22 year old song that became a meme.

The England team itself was a reimagining, a reboot of a tired old formula: younger, fearless, free from the shackles of past failures, but also humble and hard-working.

And so it was, that a revival of the most fitting England song of them all (not that there’s many good ones to pick from anyway) became the chant of a nation – and started several weeks of social media shenanigans.

It’s been a refreshing new experience for many of us who hadn’t seen England do that well in our lifetimes, especially online.

Since social media became a part of everyday life, we’ve not had many positive England performances to shout about.

But now, even the most stoic non-football fan couldn’t check their phones without seeing that ‘it’s coming home’.

Even if you weren’t entirely sure what ‘it’ was at first, and wondered if your DPD delivery driver was just leaving you cryptic messages on Facebook, there was no denying the collective feeling of excitement that built up from one simple phrase.

The ‘Three Lions’ song spliced into film scenes; fan’s singing Atomic Kitten’s ‘Whole Again’ with Southgate lyrics; #WaistcoatWednesday (even if it didn’t end how we hoped); the ‘casual Harry Maguire’ look; #GarethSouthgateWould trending, and reminding us what a stand-up bloke he is.

Even the players themselves were free of any internet embargo from previous tournaments, their Instagram feeds filled with signs that, actually, you could have fun if you were playing for England.

All of these things helped build up a sense of camaraderie, team spirit, and a healthy amount of national pride. And despite how pessimistic you’ve trained yourself to be, you couldn’t help cracking a little smile every time you saw ‘it’s coming home’.

I’ve seen people that couldn’t care less about football laughing at and sharing some of the memes.

Sometimes even complaining at the very same time how silly it all is.

But that’s the point. It’s been infectious. It’s been silly. It’s been something you’re happy to get carried away with.

Obviously, the team played their role immensely. Making people feel ok about supporting them again, repairing the bridges that had been burnt over and over again, and Jesus Christ on a pogo stick we can actually win a penalty shootout canyoubelieveit!!

But this level of hype couldn’t have happened without social media.

And that’s the funny thing about it all.

For all the negativity that surrounds social media – all of Facebook’s privacy issues, Twitter trolls, Instagram’s fuzzy brand deals, fake news, hate speech, political dramas.

Despite all of this, social media helped unite a nation.

Fans and non-fans alike, it made supporting the national team fun again, and that’s what football should be all about.

That’s what social media should be all about – uniting us with common interests.

And we think it’s done just that.

 

……Except if you’re Scottish. Yeah, sorry about that.

Honestly, if you are, I’m surprised you even read this far at all.

At least you can console yourself with the fact that Harry Kane won the Golden Boot, right? Right??

…Hello?