Maybe it’s because I am an official Olympic Storyteller? Maybe it’s because the Games are happening on home turf? Maybe it’s because of the orchestrated build-up, and the relentless advertising, in the month’s preceding the event? Maybe it’s because TeamGB have so many real chances of medal success?
Whatever the reason, I feel involved in this Olympics in a way I never have before.
And, while watching, I’ve been Tweeting. Yes, one of the joys of watching the Olympics is doing it in the company of hundreds of fellow Twitter users.
- I have been talking to fellow supporters,
- sending good wishes to individual sportsmen and women, many of whom are active Twitter users
- responding to the tweets of @TeamGB
- and commentating on the performance of the excellent BBC commentators.
Twitter has opened up a whole new dimension to watching sport. And a whole new means of communication between athletes and their fans. And between commentators and their viewers. And between supporters and fellow supporters.
It is true that there have been some unfortunate Twitter events; for example the hurtful tweet sent directly to Tom Daley, informing him he had disappointed his dead father. Then there is the less personal, but potentially equally distressing, parade of Twitter jokes and cynical one-liners. Many of these involve, as they usually do, deprecating comments about the appearance or performance of individual athletes or their teams. Amusing and witty though these Tweets may be, they could be hurtful if read by the people concerned. Most of our athletes are simply doing their very best, after years of grueling training, and are not used to being the butt of jokes.
But, I am convinced that Twitter has had a very positive effect on the Olympic games. The overwhelming impression is of a torrent of supportive Tweets, flowing from the British public to their athletes.
Receiving goodwill messages seems to have been an important motivator – and a real morale booster – for those athletes who have Twitter accounts. They have picked up thousands of ‘followers’ – in some cases, hundreds of thousands of followers. Even those athletes who are not active on Twitter have received numerous messages of goodwill relayed to them via @TeamGB or via the Olympic commentators.
The Twitter experience has been a good one, for most of us, most of the time. And I am really, really enjoying it.