I haven’t followed much of the Olympics these past weeks. I don’t have a TV and the struggle to find a reliable website and coordinate streaming with the air times and local times – just not so worth it for me when I’m already busy with work and play. My knowledge of the games comes from HuffPo headlines and classic Facebook browsing.
I gather that the games are in Russia. I know there’s a ton of political controversy, chaos and injustice, the snow is melting and anyone slightly outside the status quo faces violent oppression. I don’t know a thing about Russian politics, certainly not enough to formulate an educated, written or spoken opinion suitable for sharing, but as this blog post highlights, there’s something really obnoxious coming from the spectator end.
#SochiProblems are apparently brown tap water, cluttered or unfinished hotel lobbies and hallways, missing manhole covers, leaks, wifi modems dangling from ceiling tiles, bathrooms with two toilets or randomly placed chairs and other unsightly, developing-world ugliness. That’s quite a disappointment if you paid a bunch of money and flew halfway across the world to enjoy a massive, international sporting event.
It’s the sharing that I find blatantly offensive. OMG SOCHI PROBLEMS! The mockery screams from iPhones and desktops. It’s unbelievable, isn’t it?? There are like, four chairs in the bathroom! And that doorknob is broken! And there are no lightbulbs! Wow! Ridiculous! I think I’ll just kick back in front of my flatscreen and feel bad for those suffering international athletes!
It’s embarrassing for Russia to have invested so many billions of dollars in the Games with this result, and I’m pretty sure Putin and the like are aware of that by now. If they weren’t, they now have thousands upon thousands of Westerners scoffing and laughing at the images. #SochiProblems are not about us, so why do we think we have a right to make them the butt of all our jokes? Believe it or not, there are places in the world that even 50 billion dollars can’t fix. However, from our end of the TV screen, it’s not really our place to judge. The hotel owner who doesn’t have enough lightbulbs is probably not having a great day either. The difference is that the guests’ bad day will end, and his or hers…will not.
Instead of gaping at the social media barrage of #SochiProblems and rude memes, maybe we could take a step back and just be really happy that we live in a country where basic infrastructure is a given, where clean, functional facilities are not considered a luxury and where you pay for something you’re gonna get your money’s worth, damn it!
I was passive aggressively tolerant of the #SochiProblems until I saw an image of a typed paper sign in a public or hotel bathroom saying “Please throw toilet paper in bin. Do not flush.”
Well isn’t that just the most ridiculously backwards third-world savage thing you’ve ever heard!
Unless you’ve traveled to, say, anywhere outside the U.S. or Europe.
Like Colombia, for example.
If you don’t want to travel to Sochi, or Colombia, or somewhere else where things are different, that’s ok. It’s ok to be content with U.S. comforts and ease of living. It’s not ok when we start making a joke of a slightly lower standard of living or infrastructure that can be the norm outside our borders. That’s jackassism. Now go ahead and flush your TP, drink a big glass of tap water and pay your bills online.