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Hash Tag the spirit of the Rio Olympics

Rio de Janeiro, August 14th, 2016

The creative industry is following the Rio Olympics closely and there is a lot to be learned from it. The use of social media is phenomenal and there are countless digital assets being created to support the event and its

A week before the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics saw a surge of social conversation, with nearly 600K Tweets in the last 24 hours before the event launch. But social media can also be a double-edged sward.

Athletes at the Olympic games are not just under pressure to demonstrate their sports abilities. The big anonymous opinionated and heartless giant that is social media has them under the microscope. They know they should not look at their phones. They know they should focus on the games. But it takes an amazingly strong and single-minded person to try to ignore the hearsay with a hash tag on your name.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has made its values for the Olympics clear and it has a vast collection of documents readily available about the appropriate usage of social media. These include rules about no swearing, no defaming of individuals and all entries must be on-topic.

However, there are a myriad of ways t hurt and affect an individual that might not be racist, defamatory or use any swear words.

An excellent example is 20-year-old American gymnast Gabby Douglas. Four years ago, Douglas showed an outstanding performance at London Olympics. But she was already under the cruel scrutiny of social media with comments about her hair and her sternness, as she didn’t constantly smile to the cameras.
This year in Rio, after the disappointment of coming seventh on the uneven bars on Sunday, she spoke to journalists about her emotional upheaval.

Nothing is missed or forgiven in the public eye. Douglas has been dubbed as unpatriotic on Wednesday when, after the American team won gold on the Final Five, she failed to place her hand on her heart during the national anthem. The social media public reportedly said she was bitter on Thursday, when Simone Biles won the individual all-around, Aly Raisman won silver and Douglas – who was clapping – didn’t stand and cheer like her teammates Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian.

Talking to the reporters she apologized for failing to salute the flag, for her lack of smiles and for the perception that she had been jealous of her team mates success. Her own tweets demonstrate her support for her team
Representing one’s country at the Olympics should be pressure enough for the athletes. Who could know the personal pressure Douglas in under as her career unfolds in front of the whole world… Should she or anyone be judged in this manner? Couldn’t social media be used more creatively and constructively?

By Geny Caloisi.

Gabrielle Douglas Twitter
Rio 2016 English Twitter