It used to be that the Olympic gymnasts were sequestered away in a house surrounded by barking dogs and a moat. If you wanted to know anything about them, you had to wait until NBC flipped on the cameras and broadcast a picture of them into your living room. This time around, the gymnasts are so hyped up on social media that you can basically track everything they do via twitter. What did McKayla Maroney have for lunch today? There's 5 instagram pictures that will tell you!
We're used to a constant onslaught of information about our favorite celebrities so if you're a casual fan, this might not seem all that odd. But if you're a hard-core gymnastics fan, this is an unreal change. An 'almost' unwelcome change.
Why? Well, if you were brought up on the mystique of the soviet gymnasts then you like a little side of mystery with your beam.
Back in the day, the only information you got about any of your favorite gymnasts came from the pages of International Gymnast. You were fed a diet of a black and white picture once a month and if you were lucky, a tiny snippet where they actually said something interesting. And if you were really lucky, you got a pull out poster. Ask any obsessed gymnastics fan about an IG poster and I guarantee you, their heads will slightly roll back, a small strand of drool will escape and their eyes will glaze over as they regale you with tales of taping up those coveted posters to their bedroom walls.
But I digress. (And that'll totally never happen again. For at least one paragraph.) The point is - you used to have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks about your favorite gymnasts. (Remember imagination? that's the thing we used to do before we started liking everyone's status on facebook.) And that led to increased intrigue which led to obsession which led to, well, people like me. Crazy. Crazy obsessed with hoarding any and all information about the sport.
So the fact that this morning I was able to call up twitter and see a picture of the U.S. women's team on their way to training (wearing the cutest yellow sneakers ever) is still a bit jarring. Don't get me wrong - I love it. But I view the team very differently than any team in the past. There's no guessing this time around. I know who they are, I know who their friends are, I have an idea of their personalities and I know that McKayla Maroney could spend literally all day taking pictures of herself and never once lose that awesome smirky grin of hers.
So it's not bad. Just.... different. There used to be this feeling of really investing time and energy into getting to know these athletes and now it's all just sort of a giant chinese buffet of information. Sort of similar to how I felt when lululemon launched an online store. When I no longer had to work for it, I suddenly found it far less interesting. I mean, that's totally shallow and everything and I can't believe I just used it as an example and I also can't believe I'm not deleting it right now and omg, why do my hands keep typing this terrible sentence?!?!?!
And don't even get me started on the men and their twitter habits. They have recently been on a mass re-tweeting spree that would embarrass even a bird. Good thing their biceps offset their tweeting decorum.
If you want to follow along with the athletes, here are their twitter handles (don't worry - it's not stalking if they're verified)
Kyla Ross - twitter.com/kyla_ross96
McKayla Maroney - twitter.com/McKaylaMaroney
Jordyn Weiber - twitter.com/jordyn_wieber
Gabrielle Douglas - twitter.com/gabrielledoug
Aly Raisman - twitter.com/Aly_Raisman
Jake Dalton - twitter.com/jake_dalton
Danell Leyva - twitter.com/DanellJLeyva
John Orozco - twitter.com/JohnW_Orozco
John Horton - twitter.com/J_Horton11
Sam Mikulak - twitter.com/SamuelMikulak
I leave for London in about 8 hours and I. CAN. NOT. WAIT.