SOCIAL media is a place where people tend to act first and think later. Sites like Twitter are not the spot to go to for nuanced comment or respectful debate, even with the whole range of emojis, GIFs and other visual prompts available to articulate your point. Most users at some point will stumble into an online argument on the back of what probably felt like an opening innocuous remark. And before you know it, you’re on the wrong end of a 280-character assassination.

I stumbled down that dark path about eight years ago with a throwaway comment about women’s football in Scotland. It wasn’t anything derogatory about the clubs or players, more a dig about the way some – both inside the game and in the media – were trying to package it up and push it as something it wasn’t. It felt both opportunistic and patronising and I tweeted as much. Bloggers, media specialists, and other advocates of the Scottish women’s game took offence. Trying to further explain my position only seemed to make it worse. Such is the nature of (anti) social media.

My point – made badly - was that the women’s game could well become something of substance but it had to grow gradually and organically. One leading figure inside the game couldn’t understand why women’s football wasn’t getting the same media coverage as the men’s game. Why wasn’t it on the back pages of the newspapers? And on the radio and television news? Writers and broadcasters eager to mine this particular niche were naturally in agreement.

The truth is, though, it wasn’t ready for that platform. And saying so didn’t make you a misogynist, only a realist. Media coverage tends to reflect the interests of its audience and in 2011 there wasn’t huge attention on women’s football in Scotland. The national team were yet to achieve much of note, and the domestic league struggled to draw a crowd. There wouldn’t have been too many conversations in pubs or in the back of taxis about how Glasgow City or Spartans were getting on.

The counter-argument was that additional media would help the game grow. Maybe to an extent but it would have been artificial and unsustainable. Puffing the women’s game up back then would only have worked if there was something more substantial underneath the top level to support it such as widespread coaching opportunities for young girls, or extensive financial backing from both commercial sponsors and the Scottish FA. At that time, neither was hugely prevalent.

The rightful comparison at that time ought to not have been with the men’s game but with other minority sports. There are thousands of dedicated athletes, both male and female, in fields such as swimming, cycling, squash and martial arts who never get the coverage their efforts undoubtedly deserve. Before the rise of the Murray brothers, you would barely have read a word about Scottish tennis in most newspapers. Our obsession with men’s football to the detriment of just about anything else tends to see to that.

The key aspects to building any sport, therefore, is success and strong role models. And now the Scottish women’s game has both. Reaching the Euros two years ago and now the World Cup has given the country something to celebrate that they’ve not had for a while – a successful national football team. Within the group there is a charismatic, media-savvy head coach in Shelley Kerr and players operating at the sort of European elite clubs that their male counterparts can only dream of.

And yet they all still seem accessible to younger fans through social media – one of its more positive attributes – and aware of their responsibilities in continuing to grow the game.

The build-up to today’s opening game against England has been like nothing before. And deservedly so. The BBC – with their cast of thousands over in France – are leading the charge but many other media outlets are represented, too. The coverage in the newspapers will be extensive and it would be a surprise if most didn’t carry articles and photos about today’s game in Nice on their back pages.

That level of interest is perhaps not quite representative of the nation as a whole – football conversations this week have centred more on Steve Clarke’s first outing with the men’s team last night – but there is an undoubted rise in people keen to see how the women’s team get on. Viewing figures of tonight’s teatime game that will be shown both on BBC One and on BBC ALBA (long-time backers of the Scotland team) will give another indication of how closely the nation is following their progress.

That heightened interest in the women’s team over the last few months will continue over the next fortnight before dropping off once the team is knocked out. Scots athletes who have represented their country at a Commonwealth Games or the Olympics can confirm as much. The hype and focus rarely continues once an event is over.

Still, simply having Scottish female players beamed into living rooms on primetime TV ought to count as a success regardless of how the team performs. It has taken longer than they would probably have liked but they have got there in the end.