The Olympics are in full swing, and this year is the first year that social media has really been around during the games. And that’s become more and more clear with each day, and each new news story about the role social media is playing — for better or worse.

The pros:
-By following my favorite Olympian on Twitter, or by liking them on Facebook, I feel more connected to them. It’s all much more personal and now I want them to do that much better because I can connect with them. If I’m lucky, they might even reply to a Tweet or in some cases call me!

-The Olympic athletes have more control over what people see of them. Granted, they can’t control what other news outlets or fans put out, but they can control what they put on the internet. For instance, we can see how they relax and prepare… or just have a little fun.

-The possibilities of watching all the events you ever wanted to, online, on TV, or even chatting with people about the events from across the world (while staying in front of the comfort of your own television) is now possible. If you want to see a recap of equestrian, shooting, and judo it’s all online. If you want to chat with another weightlifting fan from Poland, it’s as easy as going online. You are no longer limited to what NBC shows you on their station alone, but other stations, online, and on social media as well.

Cons:

-The biggest problem that has been seen to come out of the use of social media during these Olympic games are the results and spoilers.  With so many fans and people live-tweeting or simply just posting their excitement (or dismay) on Facebook, it ruins the event for people who were trying to wait to find out the results after watching the event. News outlets have also done a lack-luster job at preparing people for spoilers, but instead they put them right in the headlines or in the most obvious places on the page. It seems the only way to remedy this for now is to avoid the internet, or be careful what you read. (I did, however, see an article before the event was broadcast with a headline that was “Gymnastics: U.S. Women’s team takes…” which was perfect. It gave nothing away and let me decide if I wanted to read the article to find out or wait to watch it.)

-The worst thing about social media in general is the fact that sometimes people just don’t know when to filter. Competition brings out the worst in people as it is, but now with social media, people all over the world can voice their opinions… even if they are in distaste, and sometimes offensive.  And in some cases, this can even lead to legal action

-Being able to watch any event you want to does have a disadvantage.  NBC is trying to control what people see and when, and through various networking tricks, YouTube, and other recent developments, people are able to watch things before they are aired on television. This, again, leads to spoilers, but also problems for television networks, journalists, internet networks, and hacking.

We’ve certainly come a long way since the first Olympic games held in ancient Greece. Our latest development of social media is not only directly influencing the Olympics by making the athletes seem more real and by posting the latest results whether we’re ready or not, but social media is also bringing the world so much closer during these Olympic games.  In a spectacle that is meant to stir up friendly competition across the world, the fans now have the chance to interact with other fans around the world — just as those attending the Olympic games have that opportunity.

How has social media influenced your watching and opinions on the Olympic games this year?

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