Mind the Gap – The Olympics and Social Media

Apparently activity on Twitter reached some kind of peak during the recent Olympics, and WordPress has posed the question of whether our own appreciation of, or engagement with, the Games was impacted by this or other social media.

Because this blog, if it’s about anything, is about my interaction with the world, I have written a couple of posts about my attendance at  Olympic events, as well as my impressions of the impact of the Games on my city.  I’ve also been to Cultural Olympiad events and written about them; but I wouldn’t describe writing about these things as anything particularly remarkable.

Where perhaps I have participated in the boom in social media is as a reader, not necessarily of blogs on the events, but in checking out comments on twitter.  On the couple of evenings when I was out and interested in the results achieved by Team GB, in the theatre interval or on my way home before going underground, I checked out if anyone was tweeting about success or medal count, an occasionally tedious process if it required too much scrolling back through time.

I follow a couple of athletes as well as a couple of the BBC’s journalists on twitter, and if they were ‘cheering’ or ‘congratulating’ that was a fair indication of good news.  Silence was a bit harder to interpret, as in the heady days of exceptional British success, sometime a bronze medal didn’t always receive the unbridled appreciation that it deserved.

My main interaction with twitter was on the night of the Closing Ceremony, which I watched on my own, cringing, barely able to watch it even through my fingers, so embarrassingly awful did I find it.  I logged on, my PC on my lap to see if I was alone in my opinion of the lamentable occasion.  It was the entertainment of the debate over just exactly how terrible it was that stopped me switching off, and then after a while I had invested so much time in the hope that it might improve, I didn’t want to stop, in case the moment after I turned off, it suddenly got better.

When I was bored by the events, I looked to social media to make it more interesting, but while I was properly engaged, as during Mo Farah’s races or Jessica Ennis’s heptathlon I didn’t even think about the online buddies;  so I don’t think I’m properly of the social media set…yet, and didn’t really contribute to the Olympic inspired spike.


Addendum – I’ve just discovered that this post has been Freshly Pressed.  A huge surprise, so welcome to all new readers.  As you’ll have seen, I’m really only on the fringes of social media, so this it feels quite odd to receive such extra attention for a post on this subject.  I hope you’ll leave a comment if you’re more savvy about it than me!

Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. I was amazed at how social media jumped on the Olympics. Even stuff like McKayla Moroney’s face when she won the silver- it was everywhere. All over facebook and tumblr. It seemed like every athlete had a twitter with that little blue checkmark next to them.

    • I think some of it may be country specific as, although I pretty much watched the UK Olympic coverage all the time it was on, until you mentioned her name I had never heard of McKayla Maroney. What I saw was a focus basically on GB competitors doing whatever discipline, and track and field competitors from whatever country.

      • I did notice that (being in USA) a lot of the coverage focused on either American competitors, or the world record breakers, such as Blake/Bolt (The Jamaican runners).

        I tried to follow most of the countries, and have no shame in admitting I like when America doesn’t win every event, because many Americans have a… well an arrogant pride, and we need to get knocked down sometimes to realise we aren’t perfect.

      • I think here in London the evidence of the huge crowds of people who attended all the events was proof that we embraced the whole event and everyone participating. In terms of what the TV could broadcast, and what any single person could consume it had to be focussed on the exciting events, such as the sprints as you say, and the home team. A friend spent some time in France during the event, and commented that the French coverage was entirely about the French performance, so I suspect it is the same the world over. In terms of the impact on of the social media effect, I don’t think it influenced the focus of my attention at all – I still relied on traditional media for most of my information.

    • Katherine, I’m curious. You seem to note in your comment something they refer to as ‘going viral.’ Do you know why so much importance was attached to that? Or, what for you was significant about that? Also, you note a sense of ‘verification’ or ‘validation’ with reference to your comment. There was some kind of meaning to that for you. Was it completely superficial and transient? I’m curious. Was it that you were bored as the author of this post, or, was it something else?

  2. This is an interesting post. I enjoyed reading what your experience was. I’m curious. I have a question about your lexicon and am wondering if it is British or something else. When you state, “…in the theatre interval or on my way home before going underground,…”, I’m imagining that you are referring to the subway/metro with ‘underground,’ yet, I’m intrigued by what you mean by ‘theater interval.’ What do you mean? And congratulations for being picked.

    • Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. Yes it is probably my British English; I was referring the to London subway system when I said underground, and for theatre interval, I think the American usage might be ‘intermission’. It’s that period between acts in a theatre when you can get refreshment, use the bathroom …… or check your phone. 😉

  3. Northern Narratives

     /  August 18, 2012

    I enjoyed reading your post and Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  4. Interesting!

  5. Great post! I have to agree, i was also left somewhat confused and embarrassed by the opening ceremony. What a waste of money. I did, however, get some interseting messages from my students (I am a teacher in China). Such as… “Wah, you cuntry queen so cool and impressive! parasoot jump out helicopter into london 2012 olympic open ceremony!” Bless…

    • Thank you and thanks for taking time to comment. I thought there were moments of bonkers genius in the opening ceremony; the closing ceremony, on the other hand, I had to watch through my fingers.

  6. I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m not certain whether or not this submit is written through him as nobody else understand such unique about my difficulty. You are incredible! Thanks!


Do let me know what you think.......

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: