‘Inspire a generation’ has been the idea that have encapsulated the Olympic Games in London, and so far it has really come to life. London and Great Britain as a whole have really come together to celebrate the Olympics, cheer on the competitors and join in the euphoria. No matter what sport or wheather conditions have met them, the crowds have been there to carry their athletes on. This is also the first real social media Olympics. Back at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, few knew the thrill of the hashtag, the “Twittersphere” had just three million “tweeps” and social-networking monolith Facebook had a “modest” 100 million users. In contrast, the opening ceremony of London 2012 generated more tweets than the entire 2008 Games, while Facebook’s world wide 900 million users shared photos and comments about the event.Tim Berners-Lee was even tweeting live while participating in the Danny Boyle-directed opening ceremony. In four years, social media has taken over the Olympics!
However, there have been examples of how social media has shown its ugly side, none more clear than when British diver Tom Daley became subject to insults via Twitter. Perhaps the public is not yet quite aware just how in touch they are with the athletes through social media channels. But athletes have also experienced the wrath of social media. Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked out of her country’s Olympic squad before the Games began for a tweet which was judged to have mocked African immigrants into the European nation.
But, hiccups aside social media has in fact connected the world in real time and fostered a constant conversation about sports. People are now watching the events with a ‘second screen’, constantly interacting and sharing updates, emotions and experiences with each other. Athletes can now talk directely to their fans and thus also promote mage of themselves they most want to project. Hopefully the interactions created and the experiences shared during the London Olympics 2012 can truly inspire a generation to follow in the footsteps of some of the amazing athletes that we have been priveledged to follow both through Twitter, television and live here in London.