The Paralympics Opening Ceremony: What Did Twitter Think?

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There was an interesting nervous excitement as I sat down with my Twitter feed to watch the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. This was a wholly different feeling to the Olympic ceremony, which we knew we would hate, and proceeded to watch solely in a sneeringly ironic manner (which meant that as we began to realise how good it actually  was, we all felt awfully confused, stupid and ashamed).

So with the bar raised higher than on a pole vault (which I believe to be quite high, although I never did get round to watching any of the sporting events), would this warm the hearts of a bunch of cold cynics like myself?

From the outset, it was mixed – it clearly couldn’t compete with the Olympic ceremony in terms of budget or theatrics, but on the other hand, it had more potential for low-key distinctive brilliance and it’s a more naturally inspiring concept (not just incredible talent and hard work, but incredible talent and hard work despite intense difficulty in tasks able-bodied people like myself completely take for granted). 

So while the ongoing theme of enlightenment values and  Stephen Hawking fulfilled my feed’s appetite for geekiness, whet by Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s appearance at the Olympic ceremony, there were of course obligatory reflexive boos and jeers at the presence of David Cameron and Lord Sebastian Coe.

 

On the whole, however, there was a genuine feeling of authentic inspiration of the kind that simply cannot be superficially generated with a phenomenal budget. The speeches by Stephen Hawking and Sir Ian McKellan seemed to be almost universally admired (ignoring the trolls), containing plenty of inspirational soundbites ripe for re-tweeting.

 

 

 

Of course, a few sarcastic comments slipped through the net, but they’re remarkably light-hearted and usually made fun of something other than the ceremony:

 

 

Outside my little bubble, some of the most retweeted comments were Tom Daley’s message of support, predictable jokes in poor taste and this humorous Tube sign:

 

 

And of course, it wouldn’t be right for politics to stop for the evening – while most politicians’ tweets were blandly but benignly supportive, it went without saying that someone would stick their foot in it: this time we saw Edwina Currie with the following blunder:

 

Other political figures were using the opportunity to point out some of the wider issues surrounding the games (largely about the games’ controversial sponsors ATOS, and the Government’s cuts to the Disability Living Allowance):

 

 

Yet again, Twitter proved it can provide a brilliant commentary (although, not to implicitly offend the as-ever brilliant Jon Snow), and despite predictable British pessimism, we’ve proven we can put on a pretty good show.

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Discussion1 Comment

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    Great piece. The idea of ‘sitting down with your Twitter feed shows how much individuals want to contribute to events as they happen. And your description of what happened in so many households at the Olympic opening ceremony happened in our household too!

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