Here at Day One of Southby Southwest Interactive the longest line so far was to see Auburn Tigers alum, NBA legend and Turner analyst Charles Barkley speak.
The panel topic was “How to remain relevant in today’s digital age”. It was a fireside chat with Sports Illustrared columnist Richard Deitsch.
For the most part Barkley was his normal off the cuff and brutally honest self. To those who haven’t seen Sir Charles speak outside of his role on TNT, they may have been surprised to hear him to speak out in support of gay marriage and spanking kids.
“If you could really go to jail for spanking kids every black parent I know would be in jail” he said at one point during the conversation. TNT handlers in the front row seemed to take it all in stride, smirking in agreement at times.
The most shocking thing for some though, especially in the case of SXSW Interactive, was that Barkley said he doesn’t use social media, period.
“My daughter will call me from time to time and ask me if I saw something on social media and I have to remind her I didn’t” Barkley said.
He feels wholeheartedly that by skipping social media all together he has more control over his image and his relevance. People can’t confuse the things you say with things others say about you.
When Deitsch asked Barkley about advice for aspiring athletes no one should have been surprised that he said to stay off social media.
Barkley seems adamant about his position on social media but, when asked during the Q&A again about it he said he may see a use in it in the future as he ponders the idea of a follow up to his best selling book on racism “Who’s Afraid Of A Big Black Man”.
It was Barkleys growing up in Leeds Alabama and experiencing racism first hand that inspired him to write the book and even helped shape some of his beliefs “I’m Big Pro Gay Marriage” he said at one point backing that up with an anctedote about racial persecution.
As to the not being on social media, he stays relevant in other forms of digital including television and tnt’s accompanying websites but the former Dream Team point scoring leader said that social media can be very distracting.
Barkley told a story about a Plummer who said that he had played basketball with Kevin Durant in high school and said that he could beat Durant. “I’ve seen guys like KD and RG3 get broke up about what a Plummer said on social media”.
He’s held out this long all he needs to do now is spend the next 8 years not on social media and he will have made it. The 52 year old said he was most definitely retiring when he turns 60.