Twitter: The media's gold medal winner

Whether you believe it is a source of good or source of evil, London 2012 has shown we've entered a Twitter generation.

    Twitter: The media's gold medal winner
    US swimmer Michael Phelps was congratulated on Twitter by President Barack Obama [EPA]

    As Bradley Wiggins rung the bell to start Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony extravaganza it also opened the 140 character floodgates. The Tweets started, and boy did they come thick and fast.

    In fact 9.66 million of them came. That’s more Tweets in one day than in the entirety of the Beijing games four years ago. Proof if ever that we’ve entered a Twitter generation.

    London 2012 is showcasing the world best but it’s also showing the power of the keyboard. Mr Bean may have been the trending topic of choice on that Friday night but when the first bow was fired at Lords and the games began it was sport that took to the stage.

    It wouldn’t be surprising if the Olympic Village had a blue light radiating from it, all those smart phone fired up at lights out, athletes tapping their thoughts, thanks and prayers to their followers.

    "It wouldn’t be surprising if the Olympic Village had a blue light radiating from it, all those smart phone fired up at lights out, athletes tapping their thoughts, thanks and prayers to their followers"

    The power of a medal is proven when you see that Louis Smith, silver medallist on the pommel and bronze medallist in the team gymnastics, had 12,000 followers when the Games began. Now over 70,000 people are viewing pictures of washing drying on his balcony in the Olympic village.

    Twitter is being used as a tool to bring minority sports come to the fore with athletes being directly accessible for people to speak to.

    Twitter is also giving us a look inside the minds of athletes at this Olympics. With mentality being all part of the winning formula this is the first time that the public have been able to know how an athlete is feeling.

    Long gone is the sound bite taken from a press conference, now when Ryan Lochte comes away from the pool he tells his followers "The greatest athletes suffer the hardest defeats before the biggest and best moments of your life…God has a plain [sic] for everyone J".

    For an athlete who is carrying America’s expectations on his shoulders he is shockingly honest about how much he is feeling the pressure. Would we have seen similar thoughts tapped out by Michael Phelps four years ago? We’ll never know, but what we do know is that Lochte’s #LochteNation hashtag will continue to trend throughout these Olympics.

    One accolade Lochte can’t take from the king of the pool Phelps came in a short message from @BarackObama "Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You’ve made your country proud –bo."

    Now when even the President of America is sending his Olympic congratulations thorough the medium of Twitter you surely know it’s the way forward?


    This is the first Olympics that are truly ‘behind the scenes’. It is not a directed behind the scenes video; it’s a gritty reality of athlete’s single beds, DVD nights for Team GB’s weightlifting girls and the tears when it all goes wrong. The immediacy of it is something an Olympics has never experienced before. People can follow events via Twitter without having to switch a television on or tune the radio in.

    Twitter may have been a positive influence but it caused controversy less than a week in to the games. Before the action had even started Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou had been banned following the tweet “With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food!”

    The racist Tweet saw her immediately expelled by the Greek Olympic Committee. The story made front pages the world over and shattered her dreams of representing her country in London. Further proof, if ever needed, of the impact one single Tweet can have.

    She was the first to be expelled because of Twitter and sadly not the last; Switzerland’s footballer Michel Morganella packed his bags following a Tweet racially abusing the South Korean footballers.

    What both these examples prove is that sometimes the speed and efficiency that these athletes have in abundance shouldn’t be transferred into their fingers to type out their immediate thoughts.

    Whether it is a negative or a positive is opinion, but what is fact is that Twitter has certainly won a gold medal and broken every world record going for the power and supremacy it has achieved during London 2012.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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