First Screen, Second Screen, Olympic Screen

I am on vacation in a place that advertises itself as being “at the intersection of heaven and earth” — and I agree. I have been here a week, and it has everything you want in a relaxing vacation: a beach on a secluded cove with elevator access; several restaurants that serve food from all over the world; five large pools, plus a private pool in our garden; friendly staff attending to your every need. Plus: free high-speed Internet.

I can Instagram every gorgeous sunset every evening (unsurprising content for those that follow me on Instagram). But I am not doing any of that. I’m on an involuntary mobile detox. I did not bring my tablet, but only my laptop and my phone. That is, until I walked into the ocean with my phone in my pocket — and poof, I was disconnected from the world.

It has been a strange sensation not to have all access all of the time. And it shows me how much the phone screen and all that it offers has become a crutch on which I rely all the time, for quick updates, check-ins and other aspects of managing life.



For instance, the Olympics have started, but without those instant updates from NBC and BBC, I have really no idea who is winning what until I either open up the laptop or switch on the TV at night. And I promised my family I would do very little of either while we are here.

Did you watch the opening ceremony and the entrance of the athletes? How many did you see carrying a phone or a Go-Pro? It was the vast majority, which is not surprising since most athletes have grown up in the age of always-on.

I have looked up a number of athletes who are currently in Rio. And it is amazing how good most of them are at “marketing” and “branding,” even though their number-one job is tennis, boxing, soccer, beach volleyball or another sport. They also know how to integrate the brands of their sponsors on occasion. Sure, you say, but they get all kinds of support for that, which may be true for some of the biggest names.

But what you’ll see is that athletes share their own updates with their fans in an authentic voice in every post. Brand integrations feel relevant and acceptable, since they directly relate to their profession of being an athlete. You would expect sneakers and sports apparel and you’ll see that plenty, but I also see (sometimes sponsored, sometimes not-sponsored) updates about life on the road (for example, airlines, airports and hotels), food, cars, fashion, music and other things you and I share on social media just like them.

And whether you follow Hope Solo, Carlin Isles, Serena Williams, Carlos Balderas, Katie Ledecky or Claressa Shields, they all allow you peeks into their live as an Olympian and an athlete, from the inside. In fact, it has gotten to the point where TV commentators are following the athletes’ every post, just so they can report on what is happening when it is happening. You have seen the same trend in celebrity TV news shows.

Some people contend that the second-screen model for mobile is history. At the Olympics and in Hollywood, TV is now the platform that feeds off social media.

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