I hid from Twitter to save my reality

This post is in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge from WordPress. This week’s Mind the Gap post is about a trending topic in the media. This is my opinion of how much social media influenced how I watched the “Socialympics.”

English: South African Paralympic runner Oscar...

South African Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was on vacation for most of the Olympics. Still, I watched the Olympics and was swept up in the fever. I live in Canada so watched most of my Olympic coverage on CTV and followed Canadian athletes. (I was not frustrated by the NBC tape-delay or pre-empting of results before broadcast.) I also watched international athletes: world records being set and broken, a record number of medals being won by a single individual, the first amputee competing in the Games, and athletes of all nations “inspire a generation,” as the London Games slogan suggested. The names of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Oscar Pistorius -to name only a few- were conversation topics more than once.

I was inspired by the dedication and training and stories of athletes leading up to their appearance at the Games. Knowing what an athlete had gone through to get to the Olympic stage created a more personal connection for me and I found myself more invested in that athlete than just watching an event of international participants. I didn’t blog about the Olympics directly, though I was motivated by the spirit of Olympic challenges. I wrote a post about two local athletes (aka Project Talaria) who are running the Leadville 100 to raise money for an organization that helps provide outdoor adventure activities for disabled persons. The dedication of Project Talaria was more personal and more directly inspiring to me than the international competitions I was watching.

For two weeks, the world turned away from itself. I didn’t watch the “news” or any regular programming I might have otherwise; I watched events, races, presentations, stories about the Olympics and checked results. After having the TV on for six hours one day (I didn’t sit there the entire time, it was more like background music where I could turn into something that specifically interested me), I wondered what was so captivating to me about the Olympics. I wasn’t influenced by what I was reading or seeing on any social media sites; I was watching out of my own interest.

Olympic Flag

Olympic Flag (Photo credit: SouthEastern Star ★)

As a runner and sometimes swimmer, I was inspired to watch how an individual at the peak of their athletic ability can perform. The Olympics are a fishbowl of pressure, spectators, emotions and anticipation. You do not participate in the Olympics because you are a rookie in your sport, however the amount of international attention and pressure is likely not a common experience at other events.

I did not post on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, or Tumblr about what I was watching on the Olympics. I only subscribe to Facebook, but it seemed irrelevant to post what I was watching on TV to my ‘friends.’ I did talk about the Olympics to people in person, people who were also watching the Olympics with me. But I did not feel the need to relay what everyone else had either already seen (or tweeted, blogged, etc) again. It’s fair to say that almost anyone with an inclination towards the Olympics now knows that Usain Bolt is being considered a Living Legend for his back-to-back wins.

The Olympics are a biennial collective social focus: we are not all athletes, but we are all easy spectators. Team GB had their best showing of an Olympic Games, yet the population is still more content to sit and watch than be motivated to move. Social media seems to have the same influence on how I viewed the Olympics. According to news reports, we may have been sharing and tweeting a lot more than ever before (athletes and spectators alike). However, how I watched and what I watched were not affected.

Anti-Social Etiquette

I am not a #Twitter #user.   (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

Perhaps because I’m not on Twitter I was not as involved in the stories behind the results. I think Twitter can make these stories more personal, or political, or draw more attention to what may not have been an issue before. I watched what interested me, not what someone had suggested, or what was ‘trending.’ Maybe my Olympic viewing was somewhat removed that way, simply seeing what was presented without the athletes’ or audience input. Maybe I just wanted to keep my distance.

I chose to watch the events as a moment in time, and then stepped back to my own reality: the nightly news, my own running schedule, and occasionally watching summer re-runs on TV.


40 thoughts on “I hid from Twitter to save my reality

  1. This was an interesting post. I’m not aware of any writing challenges and I didn’t watch anything of the Olympics. So it was interesting to read about your experience. Keep up the great work!

  2. It’s so hard these days to rip people away from their ‘social networks’ and make them realize how much of an impact those sites have on the way they run their lives. As you stated, you didn’t get into all of those back stories, many of which brought about issues that weren’t there before. Many users of social networks simply turn into little gossips because they can hide behind a screen and say what they’d like. Kudos to you for not falling into that trap; hopefully you’re an inspiration to others.

    • Hi Nigeil,
      Thank you for your comments and kind words.

      I have stayed away from social networks for the most part because of the gossip mill effect.
      I don’t think I have missed out on anything (yet!) by not being part of the Olympic gossip.
      Take care.

  3. I would disagree, during and after Olympics I noticed 30% more people in my local gym than ever before. I think quite a lot of people got inspired by it, well now it depends how long they’re going to keep the “sporty” spirit up! 🙂

    • I think it’s great that people are getting into the gym more now if they were inspired by the Olympics. The key is consistency to see if this continues. I think Olympics are like New Year’s resolutions where there is a flood of people in the gym, by March everyone is back to their old habits.

  4. Hey, look at you!! Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed! 😀

    Yup, me too. Just watched the Olympics and didn’t talk about it on social media. It also inspired me and was something to get the family together around the TV watching some great moments happen 🙂

  5. Healthy post! it is something you have to take in for your own experience without bit and piecing, which tends to provoke larger enjoyment and this great synopsis you have 🙂 I didn’t tune in a lot..but I thought it was a great games and applauded everyone involved

    • I think an event of such international proportions, of both viewing and participation, should hopefully provide something for everyone. Be it entertainment, inspiration or whatever.
      Thanks for reading and your comments.

  6. I use Twitter, but the people I follow (a few artists I like, a few radio/podcast politics and economics people, and space probes that talk in first person) didn’t post about the Olympics. I appreciate the idea of just watching it and not going on about it elsewhere.

    Also, watching the track events made me remember how I used to be able to run a six-minute mile, and how now I probably can’t even jog a mile without collapsing on the side of the road. Damn but I need to get to the gym.

    • Hi S.C.
      Thanks for your comments.

      I think a common theme I’ve heard of folks watching the Olympics is how they remember they used to be able to run a 6-min mile. And it used to seem so easy (relatively). It gives us something to aspire to.

      Take care!

  7. After the Olympic games, I’m starting to think there should be a name change.

    Maybe it should now be called the “anti-social media”, as I think it has degenerated onto a form of “verbal violence” with “some” people using it just to be nasty.

  8. refreshing post! I also don’t have twitter but got quite caught up in the Games that I found myself writing a few Olympic-related blog posts. For many of our Canadian athletes, it seemed like London marked the end of their Olympic careers, which saddens me a little. Watching someone be excellent at something – whether it’s sport, art – whatever – is nothing short of inspiring.

    • Hi Charlene,

      Thanks for your comments and kind words.

      The Olympics seemed like a bit of a pressurized experiment for our Canadian athletes. Many who were expected to win didn’t, but as they say, “that’s racing.” It seemed to mark the end of a lot of athletes careers, but ending on an international stage is probably pretty special too.

      Take care!

  9. You’re Freshly Pressed! Awesome! Way to go mi amiga!!!

    I don’t have a TV or a strong internet connection, so didn’t watch much Olympics…all I really had to do was wait to hear screaming from upstairs or downstairs neighbors and I’d know that Korea had just won a medal. I will say that the Olympics were a huge event here and I know the Korean people were very proud and inspired by it. : )

    • Thanks. Yay for me! I was pretty happy to be Pressed!

      It’s pretty funny when you know who has won a medal (or fallen off the uneven bars) depending on what you can hear of other people’s reaction.

      Good to hear that people were inspired. Maybe it will make everyone more “sporty.”

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  10. 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!

  11. Pingback: O bla di bla da: Freshly Pressed! « iRuniBreathe

  12. Pingback: Weekly Writing Challenge: Has Social Media changed how you view the Olympics? « auluftwaffles.com

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  14. Ah you were freshly pressed and I missed it! Congrats!!!!! I have a lot of catching up to do, but I really can’t believe I missed this. I have been waiting for one of the people I know to be up there and I’m so happy it was you..I’m so happy for you!

    • Gosh, thanks Jennifer. It was a total surprise and not quite what I had expected from this post. I’ll take it though — I was thrilled by it. (It’s a pretty fast turnaround now with the new format. 24 hours and you’re on the 2nd page). Thanks again!

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