In the run-up to the Sochi Olympics this past week, journalists attending the games tweeted their dissatisfaction with their lodgings using the tag #SochiProblems.
Boo frickity hoo.
Anybody who has spent time in China is very familiar with signs like this one, posted with shock by sports writer Greg Wyshnyski.
People have asked me what surprised me the most here in Sochi. It’s this. Without question … it’s … THIS. pic.twitter.com/1jj05FNdCP
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 4, 2014
If you have spent time in the 1/4 of the world that just does toilets like this can just can go ahead and mime Bart Simpson air choking.
The Chicago Tribune’s Stacy St. Claire gave us another familiar #SochiProblems
— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) February 4, 2014
Somebody get this girl some Nongfu Springs! This bad boy clocked in at 5,838 retweets, presumably from people shocked that water doesn’t naturally shoot from magic superfaucets everywhere. And I know this one looks familiar:
— Jo-Ann Barnas (@JoAnnBarnas) February 1, 2014
There’s lots of examples of this, but I don’t mean to heap too much blame on these reporters who may turn around and create some quality journalism on the games. It’s just that I think that by feeding this whole #SochiProblems phenomenon, they are subtly preying on a part of the Western media consciousness that wants to look out and see only dysfunction and difference.
I think It’s okay to point out these things, but I think journalists have a responsibility to take care that they don’t let them eclipse everything else. @SochiProblems, an account that resposts complaints around the Olympics, has nearly 300,000 followers. Many more people have seen the photos of the offending toilet, yellow water, and open manhole than have glimpsed at these three journalists’ articles. With this in mind, I wonder if they are happy with the overall impact of their work in Russia?
Something to think about before you take your next Chinese toilet instagram.