‘Sochi problems’ are not real problems

Katie O'Brien

The hype for the 2014 Winter Olympics was met with a mix of excitement and concern.

Excitement, because after all, it’s the Olympics. A time for countries and cultures to meet and allow their most qualified athletes to compete against each other in pursuit of the coveted gold medal. Concern, however, for the preparedness of the host city, Sochi, Russia, to accommodate the influx of people and attention to the area.

For the next two weeks, Sochi would be under a global microscope.

Fast forward to Feb 4., when the Twitter account @SochiProblems sent out its first tweet. Behind it, Canadian college student Alex Broad who has since been tweeting and retweeting various trials and tribulations of “problematic” encounters experienced by journalists, athletes and others in Sochi for the Olympics.

As of Tuesday, the Twitter account has 340,000 followers.

Some of these so-called problems include contaminated running water, shotty Internet connections and unfinished hotel rooms. However, most of these “Sochi Problems” sound more like “First World Problems.”

On Feb. 4, journalist Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune tweeted, “My hotel has no water. If restored, the front desk says, ‘do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous.’”

About an hour later she tweeted, “Water restored, sorta. On the bright side, I now know what very dangerous face water looks like. #Sochi #unfiltered,” accompanied by a photo of two glasses of yellow-tinted water.

Approximately 780 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, according to water.org. That’s equivalent to one in nine people. Most people across the globe do not have access to safe tap water and as a result, about 4 million people die per year due to water-related illnesses.

After knowing these facts, complaining about water quality for what is approximately a two-to-three-week stay in Sochi is insensitive and selfish.

What are the intentions behind complaining about something that 780 million people do not have access to? People die because there is no other option but to drink and use contaminated water. St. Clair’s comment is a clear example of the lack of knowledge westerners have toward global problems that seemingly do not affect them.

On Feb. 4, @SochiProblems tweeted, “You can have internet, but it must be impossible to use #SochiProblems #Sochi2014.”

About 35 percent of people worldwide had access to Internet as of 2012, according to The World Bank. Although the amount has increased from 14 percent in 2002, 35 percent still leaves a majority of the world without Internet. Further, many countries censor what users have access to so the vast depths of the World Wide Web is left unexplored and potential knowledge, unattainable.

However, of course, there are cultures and communities across the world who do not wish to have, or see a need for Internet. All the more reason to see the ignorance of tweeting about a lackthereof.

These are only two examples of the insensitive “problems” the account has tweeted since its creation.

As a Westerner, I’m embarrassed. I cannot understand when a person is thrown into an environment that takes them far out of his or her comfort zone, his or her first instinct is to complain instead of understand.

Instead, take a moment and try to absorb the surroundings on all levels.

“There are subjects that I keep off limits,” creator of the account, Broad said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports. “I created this account as a joke, something to laugh at, never imagining watching it grow to this extreme.”

“Sochi Problems” is not a joke. It is not something to laugh at. It is something to be embarrassed of.