Add that to the fact close to 107 million people today own smartphones as compared to about 19 million in 2008. Tablets were scarce during the Beijing and Vancouver Olympics, and now they’re owned by nearly 55 million people worldwide.
A number of apps created by Olympic committees and media organizations provide timely updates and information. And not only has NBC partnered with Twitter and Facebook, but athletes and sports fans across the globe are updating statuses and sharing media.
But this real time connection with the Olympics can also mean a disconnect from the old-fashioned family gatherings during Olympics of old. It’s not like Katie and I gather around the iPad to watch competition live.
To the contrary, we do our best to avoid the tablets and laptops so as not to spoil the ending, giving ourselves the opportunity to cheer together for the countries we want to win on television.
The stress began the day of the Opening Ceremonies. As the new afternoon anchor on All News 106.7, I talk to an ABC reporter live in London each day. There is a delicate tone to our conversations, since the field reporter knows all the results and tries to be careful not to spoil it for our audience.
Such was the case that Friday, and Tom Rivers was the ABC rep who was careful not to give any details of the Opening Ceremonies he had already seen. But at the top of the next hour when we aired a recap from ABC, another reporter started rattling off details of the show without warning.
I closed my ears and made noises to the amusement of my co-anchor, Greg, so the entire Opening Ceremony wouldn’t be ruined for me.
And what about social media? I currently have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Formspring, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Pinterest, and have been less active on all of them this past week to avoid any chance of seeing a headline or image too soon.
At least on 11 Alive they have an alarm sound during their newscast to alert you that an Olympic spoiler is coming up. Online, I may need to search for something random, but if I dare go to the Google page there is always some Olympic headline letting me know what I won’t be surprised by just hours later.
The beauty of the Olympics is creating excitement for sports most don’t give any consideration to any other time. I have pumped my fist at an archery shot and gotten sweaty palms during an intense table tennis match already.
Maybe the compromise for the rest of the Olympics is to only invest in the Canoe Slalom, Handball, and Judo events. Then I can return online without fear the world is out to get me and spoil my Olympic experience.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter