At the moment this is being written, news is just coming in that Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba is in a stable condition in hospital. Many of us learned via Twitter this afternoon that the former England Under-21 man had collapsed on the pitch just before half time during his side's FA Cup tie at White Hart Lane. For several hours it wasn't known whether he was alive or dead.
When an incident or news item stimulates widespread and immediate public concern, our Twitter time lines rapidly become flooded with messages of support. While writing a supportive tweet is such an easy and disposable act that it can sometimes seem trite and insincere, in this case it really does look clear that people are genuinely shocked at the thought of an apparently healthy young man being stricken so unexpectedly. Thoughts everywhere turn to the player, his family and his shocked team mates. Among football supporters, rivalries are put aside and interest in the day's fixtures and results is instantly eclipsed. While it could be argued that it's a shame that the world's bigger and more constant tragedies do not always elicit expressions of outrage and compassion, it is understandable that it takes something rather closer to home to get this kind of reaction.
Today's shocking event at White Hart Lane seems espcially close to home, perhaps, for those of us who travelled up to the Reebok Stadium to watch QPR succumb to a more fortunate and more determined Bolton side just a week ago. An apparently fit and healthy Patrice Muamba ran onto the pitch late in the game.
The zillions of tweets about Muamba, then, really resonate, be they written by well-known footballers and sports journalists or by Joe and Joanna Public. It's like a tidal wave of shock and compassion.
But perhaps it goes without saying that incidents like this do not bring out the best in everyone. Take one Liam Stacey, a student at Swansea University who plays rugby for Treorchy RFC, if his Twitter profile is to be believed. Liam describes himself as a "Top Bloke":
Does a "top bloke" really carry on as Liam has today, though? He has said a lot of pretty unsavoury things.
Clearly a proud Welshman, he will be celebrating his country's rugby Grand Slam triumph by ensuring that Wind Street, which is at the heart of Swansea's night-life, "is getting banged in the cunt and arse" tonight. Look out, ladies of south Wales. A charming man is on the loose.
While getting involved in various slanging matches, Liam has also advised a couple of his opponents to "go suck a nigger dick" and "go suck muamba's dead black dick". This is in addition to tweeting "LOL. Fuck Muamba he's dead !!!
Reading this, you might be moved to wonder whether Swansea University has a code of conduct for its students and, if so, whether the comments above might possibly be in breach of that code. Surely someone clever enough to go to university is not stupid enough to put his place there at risk by tweeting stuff like this in his own name and with his picture on display? Could this play out badly for Mr. Stacey? Could it follow him around when he applies for jobs in this difficult employment market? Time will tell.
Another absolute charmer who has shown his true colours in the twitter storm around the collapse of the unfortunate Bolton player is one Oliver Warren, apparently a 20-year old man from Derby. Oliver describes himself as "silly" and "YOUNGGG DUMBBB ANDDD FULLLLL OFFFFF CUMMMMM". His sperm count must remain a matter of conjecture, but he is certainly on the money with the "DUMBBB" part.
As well as tweeting "Where's Muamba gone, Where's Muamba gone?" and "Why's every1 bummin upto Muamba!!!" he remonstrated in the most vile, misogynistic and violent terms to a female tweeter who expressed her outrage: "Oi ya little sket ill shove a stanley knife up ya big fat smelly fanny! He only had a runny nose u daft bitch!!"
Nice one, Oliver of Derby. When someone has a justified pop at you for your hateful bullshit you respond with a threat of genital mutilation. If things proceed as they should, you'll be receiving a visit from the police some time soon.
So while all right-thinking people were crossing their fingers or saying their prayers for the Wanderers midfielder, some utter tools were showing what kind of lowlife they really are.
Not for the first time, we see that horrible incidents bring out the decency in most people and the spite and hatefulness in the woefully inadequate.