Social Media is Changing the Way we Experience the Olympics

Did you follow the Winter Olympics? This year, my primary source for the first time was social media. Not only has social media provided a great platform for keeping everyone up to date on what is going on, but it is changing the experience of the games – for both athletes and those of us watching and cheering them on from home.

It lets the fans at home participate.

Athletes are using social media to broadcast their individual Olympic experience and share it with the world. Fans can now experience the Olympics through the eyes of the athletes, taking us behind the scenes and experiencing what it would be like to be in Korea. We are no longer relying on the media and only seeing what they chose to broadcast.

Social media also brings fans together and creates conversations online. CBC Olympics, my primary source for Olympics news, had over 64,000 followers on Instagram and over 154,000 likes on Facebook [as of 02/26/18]. By commenting on their posts or starting our own conversations using #CBCOlympics, people all over the country could unite in support of Team Canada. Using #PyeongChang2018, viewers from ALL OVER THE WORLD could follow, comment, cheer and converse together. That to me is part of what the Olympic spirit is all about.

The downside.

Unfortunately, not all the attention online around the Olympics has been positive. For example, take the case of Kim Boutin, the who came in 4th place in the 500m short track but moved into 3rd after Korea’s Choi Min-jeong was disqualified for interference after originally finishing second. According to CBC, once that happened, Boutin’s social media account started to be flooded with negative and threatening messages, including “Aren’t you ashamed to have cheated in the Olympic Games” and “If I find you, you will die”.

kim-boutin

A snapshot of Boutin’s social media page (source: CBC)

I found it really unfortunate to see how people were using social media to send harmful messages, bringing down both the athlete, who needed to continue to complete, and the spirit of the games. The comments forced Boutin to shut down her social media profiles and started a police and IOC investigation. It wouldn’t surprise me if these types of situations lead to creating some stricter regulations around social media and the Olympics going forward.

It can commemorate a moment.

moyer

gif created of Scott Moir at the women’s hockey gold medal match that has dominated social media. (Source: Facebook Messenger)

My favourite social media moment of the Olympics has to be Scott Moir. Social media took a TV clip of the Canadian figure skater being a fan at the women’s hockey gold medal game – a clip I’m sure most people didn’t even notice – and turned it into a memorable gif and meme that caught a lot of attention on social media.

We have all learned that with increased visibility comes increased responsibility. Luckily for Scott, his comments were clean, respectable and reflective of a lot of the Canadians watching the game (seriously, are you kidding me??). It turned him into a hero of the Olympics for something other than his medals.

For more examples of defining social media moments of the 2018 Winter Olympics, and proof that the world is watching and taking note, check out this article on the 5 Best Social Media Memes of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

As social media continues to evolve, I’m sure the way we experience the Olympics will follow suit. For the 2018 Olympics, I enjoyed being a part of the conversation online, getting the inside scoop and watching history being made for Canada.

How did you follow the 2018 Winter Olympics? Can you think of other ways social media is changing the Olympics?

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