Social Media Snowballs in Sochi

Well before the Winter Olympics in Sochi began there’s been a broad range of bitterness towards the Russian hosts and particularly their President Vladimir Putin. Primarily Putin’s attitude, comments and actions around homosexuality are at the forefront on this resentment.

Putin’s views are ridiculous and from another era but I’ve been intrigued since the games started how social media actions and attitudes from the athletes are really started to seed wider news stories.

In the last few days we’ve watched Kiwi snowboarder Rebecca Torr follow up on a couple of cheeky tweets about meeting the Jamaican bobsled team and finding ‘friends’ on dating app Tinder in the Olympic Village.

Torr’s story (if that’s what you can call it) has been picked up by the UK’s Daily Mail and across multiple media channels. Now I’m sure it has nothing to do with her being very beautiful – but its kind of blown things a little off course when her job at the Games is to compete.

There’s also the story that’s followed US bobsledder Johnny Quinn who found himself locked in an Olympic village toilet when the lock jammed. His response to this situation was to kick and punch a hole in the door to get out, and then tweet a photo of it for us all to see.

Quinn’s motivation I guess was to prove how macho he is and highlight the failures of the Russian organisers who, it appears, can’t do a single thing right in these games. His story has gone completely global and it has nothing to do with his ability to bobsled.

Social media is once again highlighting the trivial elements of these Games and snowballing them into ‘real stories’. It’s also built up two profiles of athletes who are likely going to do very well out of potential sponsorship opportunities as a result of their 15 minutes of fame.

So perhaps, thanks to the snowball of social media, the winners of the Sochi games aren’t going to be fastest, highest or strongest rather just the loudest and goofiest.