Officials from both the International Olympic Committee and the Russian government have insisted to media outlets the world over that Sochi is ready for the Olympic Games. But on social media, at least, the Sochi-readiness narrative has already been decided — and it isn’t exactly going in Sochi’s favor.
@SochiProblems, a snarky, satirical Twitter account that exists only to document Olympic mishaps, has gained 111,000 followers in its two days online. A related hashtag, #sochiproblems, is earning in the neighborhood of 50 tweets every minute. According to the analytics firm Digimind Social, that means it’s outpacing the phrases "Team USA," "Putin" and "opening ceremony" in number of mentions.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that all of the Sochi problems alleged on the Internet are actually going down. One of the most-retweeted photos from @Sochiproblems — a mistranslated menu, offering a type of ice cream few of us would want — was actually taken at least two years ago, Slate’s Joshua Keating debunked this morning. And those oh-so-popular pictures of Sochi’s double toilets are a bit misleading; Russian officials have said that they just show normal stalls with the dividing wall removed to make a storage space.
To further complicate things, @Sochiproblems rarely attributes where its photos are coming from, which makes them difficult to verify. So as with all things fun and viral on the Internet, they should be taken with a grain of salt.
That said, the account has done a good job wrangling photos of polluted water ...
— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) February 4, 2014
... surprising signage ...
... and, of course, lots of stray dogs.
— Sochi Problems (@SochiProblems) February 4, 2014
As to why Twitter has latched on to this particular narrative of the games, it probably has less to do with lingering Cold War rivalries or objective Olympic interest than it does the Internet’s general proclivity for news of the weird and/or inane. We’ve reached out to @Sochiproblems for further theories on this point, but it seems the account’s owner is too busy documenting minor mishaps like this one to answer.