With three days remaining in the London Olympic Games, it has been a crazy social ride. There was the Greek jumper booted for a racist tweet , a Swiss soccer players expelled for yet another racist tweet (evidently he didn’t read the papers), too much Twitter traffic interfering with GPS devices during a cycling events, and even Twitter wars of words between commentator Brandi Chastain and Hope Solo, the US women’s soccer goalie.
In one of the more unfortunate social media stories, sprinter Lolo Jones gave social media fans rare looks into her life (pretty mild stuff) but was torn apart by the media, most likely made easier by her openness about her religion and feelings about the games. She ended up in tears on the Today show over it.
The past two weeks were a media frenzy. Some days, Twitter gaffes were a bigger story than the competition. It seems few came to London completely prepared for the first Olympic Games with both cast and audience connected by social media.
It would be easy to blame the athletes for their missteps, as they could have left their phones at home and gone into a Twitter black hole for a couple of weeks. But let’s keep in mind that they are the social generation more than the rest of us. It is their communication tool of choice. They know it better than us.
We could blame the media, but they are the ones we always suspected of kicking over rocks, dying to find whatever they can use to please their audience (us). Olympic Games journalists treated tweets with the same level of seriousness as press releases.
In the end, the social media challenges were just part of the growing pains of a world in the middle of a technology transition. Coming together for such a high-profile event just brought the story to the front. Things will settle down by the next time around and become just something we expect and not the 140-character frenzy that we’ve seen in London.
At least for the sake of the spirit of the games, it had better.