Film director and director of the Opening Ceremony, Danny Boyle, started using the hashtag #savethesurprise so that people would not share their videos of the Opening Ceremony prior to its primetime showing on NBC last Friday. (Overall…I wasn’t crazy about the ceremony. But…I did appreciate NOT seeing extended footage prior to watching it that night. I did like the Queen/Bond moment.)
I find myself preaching “save the surprise” throughout the Games. In the age of social media, live video coverage online and other news networks (that don’t have the rights to show the Games in the way that NBC does) sharing the results of various competitions before I get to see them (primarily because of the time zone difference between the East Coast of the U.S. and London) deeply annoys me.
This wasn’t a problem for me in 2008 because people didn’t seem as hyper-connected and deeply into first to know/first to report culture as today. Not one competition was spoiled for me in 2008. Most people were just sliding away from MySpace to Facebook and Twitter. Now, being the first to know, even if not totally accurate, is more important and more powerful than being correct later, with depth. TMZ knows this very well. Most news networks chase TMZ’s stories instead of creating their own.
For traditional news…yes…I accept first to know culture and even know how to mentally adjust to false celebrity death reports on Twitter. Jon Stewart himself has mocked first to know culture about the media on many episodes of The Daily Show. Sometimes, first to know culture is great in terms of election results and safety issues.
But…for the Olympics? NO. I want to see the competitions FIRST. I can’t catch everything live online, so many of the truly popular sports I don’t get to see until evenings on NBC. I want to be surprised dammit! I don’t want to know the results and daily medal count before I see the actual competitions. I’ve been a Summer Olympics junkie since Barcelona 1992. I will watch any damn Olympic sport, though gymnastics, swimming, diving, cycling and track and field are my favorites.
This is the first time in my life that I’ve been so annoyed with technology.
Since the wheels of social media and traditional media (shared online) aren’t going to stop moving, I’ve actually had to dodge people, continue to wear my headphones in public (I always do…anyway), as to not overhear Olympic conversations, dodge Tumblr for the most part and Twitter. (I peek in from time to time, but my use right now certainly doesn’t match pre-Olympic times.) I barely used Facebook prior to the Olympics so that isn’t an issue. I only view websites when I type in the URL. No surfing. The fact that I have to be actively engaged in dodging information is…new. I usually embrace information. It’s like having a movie or book scheduled each day yet the entire world is actively engaged in telling me the ending before I’ve finished.
Of course, I miss engaging some of the cool people I’ve come to respect and enjoy online. However, my disappearing acts will continue throughout the Games. I’ve already had huge gaps of time away from Twitter…which is weird since I love Twitter and it’s my favorite social network, even more than Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram….altogether, my favorite four.
I’m sure after the Games, I will be back to knowing everything immediately, knowing information that I don’t even need and hyper-spreading content from 140 characters at a time to my extended writing on Gradient Lair.
Despite being annoyed, as I mentioned, it is still slightly humorous and interesting that we’ve entered an age where one has to actively fight to keep information away versus fighting to have access to it in the first place.