Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


September 13, 2012

COLUMN: Internet robbed fans of Olympic surprises


Not so anymore. With the Internet comes a wave of impulsivity and increased lack of concern for those of us naïve enough to think that we can watch the Games with anticipation and surprise.

Because I work full-time, I recorded the programming and listened to music-only radio stations when I’m in the car. But I could not avoid using my computer at work. I even changed my home pages to non-news-and-sports-related sites, but I was helpless when inconsiderately sent me a “Breaking News Alert” announcing the latest gold-medal winner in the subject line. It was like stumbling upon your Christmas presents before they were wrapped. (It is also not unlike the feeling I had when my husband, prior to our engagement, left a file titled “ring.jpg” on my laptop, but at least there was no accompanying anger with that spoiler.)

The Internet, ironically like the Olympics, brings the world closer together. Worldwide events can become local matters instantly. The facilitation of using Facebook and Twitter allows for instantaneous communication, invited or not. And to those of you who felt the need to congratulate the medal winners on your Facebook page, I applaud your enthusiasm and interest, but couldn’t you have waited until after the events aired? In an age when one cannot escape the Internet, e-mail and social media, there must be a conscious effort to be courteous. Internet sites could, like the news outlets before them, refrain from splashing results all over the page. A simple link of “Click here for Olympic News” is not too much to ask.

I recognize that it may not be possible to completely avoid learning any results for 16 consecutive days. In fairness, even NBC, with a vested interest in keeping results secret, goofed on the third day of competition when, during a commercial break, it teased an interview appearance with “gold medalist Missy Franklin” minutes before her gold-medal-winning race. But the media can and should do better.

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