Hayne turns social media hate on its head
A famous person once said "haters gonna hate" but Jarryd Hayne has learnt to dismiss the social media hostility he is exposed to on a daily basis as merely fans who are equally as passionate about the game as he is.
For the first time in four years Hayne will on Thursday begin a full NRL pre-season with the Gold Coast Titans but on Monday took time to address high school students about the potential pitfalls and dangers associated with online activity.
Hayne had the large group of students at Robina State High School enthralled with stories of his own personal experiences with social media.
When it was announced in August that Hayne would be returning to the NRL with the Titans and not his former club Parramatta he was subjected to a torrent of abuse online from jilted Eels fans and others eager to try and tear him down.
His announcement on Instagram of his decision to join the Titans attracted 14,900 likes and 2,342 comments and many of them were uncomplimentary.
But rather than holding onto the hate, Hayne says that he has grown to recognise that it is merely the passionate response of fans, however misdirected it may be.
"Obviously I don't want to be having arguments all the time on social media but things that push your buttons or things that are a bit out of line or out of context I might write a comment and say the truth or things like that," Hayne said.
"Being an athlete and going against opposing teams or rival teams, you're always going to get those passionate fans that might say things that aren't too comfortable.
"You definitely grow and mature through it. Half the time you've got to enjoy it too because it just shows the other fans' passion for their team and wanting them to win.
"You look at it from a passion point of view and for me that's totally fine."
Hayne sees his interaction on social media – he has 710,000 followers across Instagram and Twitter – as an important way to connect with fans first-hand.
In regards to the negativity that often comes back at him, Hayne has learnt that it is his own reaction that defines his social media experience.
"It's obviously tough but it's one of those things that you learn from and grow from," said Hayne.
"It's not what people say to you, it's how you react. Being an athlete in the media realm and the spotlight you can kind of understand why people would want to have a go at you, and things like today are about teaching the kids what to write and to think before you write.
"What happens from the old 'keyboard warrior' is that someone will be at home and not really take in what they're saying and let out things that realistically they don't really mean.
"That needs to be taken into account as well and something that I do a lot, just to realise when people are behind a keyboard they don't really believe what they're writing."
Introduced as a "leader in the community" prior to taking the stage, Hayne's influence on impressionable teens such as those he addressed on Monday cannot be under-stated.
In the 10-year history of the Titans perhaps only Scott Prince and Preston Campbell have come close to appealing to the city's youth as much as Hayne does and Titans CEO Graham Annesley recognises the importance the 28-year-old plays in winning the hearts and minds of Gold Coast footy fans.
"He seems very, very happy up here," Annesley told NRL.com, confirming that the club is ahead of budget in terms of membership targets for season 2017.
"It was a big move for him to make, to leave Sydney, but he seems to have settled in really well and we need to see him playing his best and he'll be a great asset for us."