Eight time zones away from London, some frustrated Olympics fans in the tech-obsessed Bay Area are living in their own private hell, trying to boycott social media to watch the Games the old-fashioned way: tape-delayed in prime time.
To cope, some are -- gasp -- turning off Twitter. Unfriending Facebook. Disabling news alerts.
Most, however, are just giving in. How else can you manage when 86-year-old mothers are blurting out in innocent phone calls that Michael Phelps didn't even medal?
"It's difficult. I'm the one that's always connected to everything," said Ivan Makarov, 31, who lives in San Jose and works in finance, usually on his computer 10 to 12 hours a day.
To enjoy the suspense of Sunday night's men's swimming relay, which wasn't broadcast until 10 p.m. in California, "I ended up spending all day in a vacuum -- a news vacuum. It wasn't very fun, that's for sure," he said. "I'm putting myself where everybody was 40 years ago."
Across the Internet, revolts are under way -- either lampooning NBC for saving all the best events for prime time (search hash tag #nbcfail on Twitter), or blasting news organizations for posting up-to-the-second updates and coverage hours before the drama unfolds on TV.
In this age of instant information, that meant most Californians knew hours before NBC's broadcast that Queen Elizabeth stole Friday night's opening ceremonies as a Bond girl, that Phelps bombed in his race against Ryan
Lochte on Saturday, and that U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber broke into tears Sunday when she was eliminated from the individual all-around final.
All that has been a huge disappointment for Kevin Vawter, 38, of Walnut Creek, who was upset that NBC didn't broadcast Phelps' big race live over the network and crestfallen when a Facebook alert popped up announcing the results in real time.
"That was a big deal. I was going to watch it with the kids. We were going to make it an event -- kind of like the Super Bowl," he said. He canceled the family night around the TV. "Once you find out the score, you don't really want to watch."
He has already told his friends to keep future Olympic results to themselves. No, really! "Usually people are considerate," he said, "but you can't tell a computer not to do that. It's already there."
He is, however, avoiding his favorite social media sites, especially Facebook. "I'm just going to do what I can not to look at it."
NBC is offering live streaming online to those who subscribe to a cable or satellite network that broadcasts MSNBC and CNBC, but the quality is sketchy at times and those who don't subscribe are out of luck.
To media critic Jeff Jarvis, it's time for NBC and its audience to get with the times.
"The expectation now is that we should be able to watch whatever we want to watch whenever we want to watch it," said Jarvis, an associate professor of journalism at City University of New York. "For NBC to think they can force us to watch when they say we should watch is absurd," he added, especially "when we have the greatest spoiler network ever created, which is Twitter, at hand."
The Twitter comments at #nbcfail are just a slice of the vitriol aimed at the network: "Ryan Lochte could cure cancer during a race & NBC would air it 6 hours later with the cure portion removed for a Seacrest interview," read one tweet posted Monday, lambasting commentator Ryan Seacrest.
Twitter even suspended the account of a British journalist leading the tirade after he tweeted the email address of the NBC executive in charge of Olympic coverage.
Still, NBC announced record ratings Monday, and Jarvis acknowledged on his BuzzMachine.com blog that "not only would I argue that all the spoilers and chatter online are driving audience to prime time but the audience is telling NBC they'd prefer to watch a well-produced channel than the Internet."
Nonetheless, he said, there's a place for people like Vawter from Walnut Creek who was frustrated that his Facebook alert about Phelps' defeat ruined the Olympic experience for him.
"If you're OK with ignoring your friends for 23 hours, you're fine. If you're going out to a store or restaurant with cotton in your ears, that's fine. If you want to stay in your basement all day until prime time hits, OK," Jarvis said. "But if you have any contact with the world, you risk hearing spoilers. NBC has to acknowledge that new reality."
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women