It's a place to taunt, a place to fret and a place to just be snarky.
While the 49ers and Ravens bashed bodies during Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, fans tangled with each other online Sunday. Social media -- and in particular Twitter -- is a real-time global water cooler. The game may be one of the biggest sports telecasts of the year -- an estimated 179.1 million people were expected to tune in -- but it's also one of the nation's biggest social media events.
During last year's game, Twitter recorded more than 13 million tweets -- a figure that got blown away this year. How does 22 million grab you? And that doesn't include tweets about the commercials.
Fans took to social media to worry -- Daisy Barringer, @daisy, tweeted, "I am shaking I'm so nervous" -- but mostly to trash-talk.
As the Ravens took a commanding 28-6 lead at halftime, Andrelton Simmons, @Andrelton, tweeted, "(I)f it smells like a blowout looks like a blowout it's probably gonna end up a blowout #ravens."
On this newspaper's Super Bowl blog, Niners fan Sam lamented, "Who's got it better than us? Baltimoooooooore Ravens."
But as the on-field fortunes shifted San Francisco's way, so did the emotions online.
"This a ball game when y'all thought this was blow out. #letsgo. #49ers," said tieeeee, or @TieshaF_ on Twitter.
Amy B., aka @BOSS_AMZ, would have none of the 49ers joy growing across Twitter: "Wait ... lol why all of a sudden the #49ers fans wanna speak up. True fans speak throughout the WHOLE game winning or losing."
At times, the game on Twitter was as rough as the play on the field. "Is it actually socially acceptable to tell someone to hang him or herself with a belt on twitter? Stay classy people!" pleaded CBS Sports Radio host Dana Jacobson.
In the end, Indie music artist DeWunNation.com, @DeWun_Music, summed up the close 34-31 Ravens victory: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!.! #ravens."
There were plenty of light moments as well. A 34-minute power outage at the start of the second half led one snarky fan to create @SuperbowlLights, which had some 10,000 followers within minutes.
And advertisers were quick to recognize an opportunity, as well: Laundry detergent maker Tide tweeted: "We can't get your #blackout, but we can get your stains out."
Silicon Valley futurist Paul Saffo calls this the era of "personal media."
It wasn't that long ago that sports fans suffered -- and rejoiced -- alone in front of their TVs. The only others who heard their moans or shouts of joy were patient spouses or friends huddled together for four hours of football. Now as fans gather in front of their big screens with their chips and beer, they make sure their laptops and smartphones are nearby so they can yelp, cry and laugh across the Internet.
"In the mass media age, you sat and watched. At most, you shouted at the screen," Saffo said. "In the personal media age, participation is an essential part of the experience. It's the power of immediacy and the power of immersion."
Many athletes take to Twitter and Facebook, too, though the NFL forbids players from tweeting or updating social-networking profiles starting 90 minutes before a game until after postgame media interviews are completed.
On Twitter, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe seemed more interested in what was occurring between plays -- the commercials -- than the play on the field. "That Audi commercial just had a kid tongue-raping someone ...Way to not objectify women and play into stereotypes," he tweeted.
Contact John Boudreau at 408-278-3496; follow him at Twitter.com/svwriter.