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Social Media: The Big Olympic Spoiler

Every four years, a two week period comes along where the best athletes in the world compete in various sports to become the best. Right now, everyone has been glued to the TV to follow the rivalry between swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte , and watch every flip and stuck landing of the US Women’s Gymnastics Team. Now, it has been a tradition to become engrossed in the Olympic Games, but since the last Summer Olympics in 2008 our world has become much more reliant on social media.

Why Spoilers Are a New Problem

I have been hearing everyone complain that the Michael Phelps race they were so excited to watch was ruined by an insensitive twitter account, and it made me think about why society hasn’t faced this problem before. During the Beijing Olympics in 2008 there was a delay in TV coverage as well, but I don’t remember there being nearly as much of a problem with spoilers. Then it hit me that although it feels like Twitter has been around forever, it only emerged as the new popular social network around the time of 2009, a year after the last summer Olympics. Now, 3 years later, it is the “Official Narrator” of the London 2012 Olympics. It is hard to remember a time when you didn’t tell all your followers every one of your thoughts in 140 characters or less, but Twitter is still new to the social seen. Twitter UK even reported that there were more Tweets in a single day last week than during the entire 2008 Beijing Games.

Avoiding Spoilers Should Be an Olympic Sport

Because we all live in the high tech world that is 2012, avoiding learning the Olympic results before primetime is just as a hard as preforming an Amanar Vault in gymnastics. Olympic spoilers have people turning off phone alerts, hiding their iPads and shushing co-workers. But logging off all technology isn’t a full proof plan to avoid spoilers either. If Twitter, email alerts, and notifications don’t spoil it, the next person you meet will. You might miss reading Ellen’s funny tweets for two weeks because you’ve sworn off Twitter, but the second you walk into the lunch room or doctors office somebody will say “OH MY ! I can’t believe Missy Franklin won that race.”

So clearly, the only way to avoid having the Olympic games unspoiled is to: Cease to live in the modern world. Use no social media. Talk to no one. Eyes front: Look at no newsstand, no TV crawler. No radio! Get home, take out the earplugs . . . but only after you turn on NBC. 

A Suggestion from the Source

Enough with the sarcasm, avoiding spoilers from friends is a though battle, but ESPN gives a realistic tip so you can use Twitter sans spoilers.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Now this phrase is not just a catchy Kelly Clarkson tune, in fact it actually represents NBC’s position in the world of spoilers. You would think that because everyone is finding out the results of all the matches, meets, and races during the day they skip the chance to watch it at night, but NBC reports otherwise. The network can point to its stellar ratings — 40.7 million viewers for the opening ceremony and 28.7 million for the first night of competition Saturday — to argue that it must be doing something right. One of the creators of the hit tv show Lost, Damon Lindelof, even tweeted about his thoughts on the great Olympic spoilers. Looks like he thinks people won’t stop tuning in anytime soon.

Why I Don’t Mind the Spoilers

I seem to have the same mindset as Damon, as I don’t mind the new era of social media introducing spoilers. When watching Olympic events I get anxious and nervous that my favorite athlete isn’t going to win. I like finding out the basic results such has who won and lost during the day, and then seeing how all the action played out when it airs on TV at night. This way I can be calm and enjoy watching the events. Spoilers won’t get me to give up social media just yet.

What is your opinion on Olympic Spoilers? Have you sworn off technology for the time being, or you “pro-spoilers” like me?

Lindsey Silverman

Lindsey is currently a student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. She loves all things social media, so connect with her on Twitter: @Lindzsilver

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