As the Olympics ebb the synchronicity of smartphones

BEIJING – Smartphones glowed. The irony responded.

As part of the closing ceremony of the most closed and closed Olympics in the history of mankind on Sunday night, a carefully assembled crowd crowded – well, indeed, the famous Bird’s Nest Stadium as a warm and humanistic show.

The show itself, directed by the famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou, is quite rich in colors, music, energy and even joy. It felt like it was cut off from the COVID-19-separated Winter Games, which, despite the insistent theme of “Together for a Common Future,” separated thousands of people, both inside and outside of its calibrated bubble.

As the closing ceremony drew to a close, something interesting unfolded. This was a moment that became common in the post-concert era:

Ahead of the ceremony, crowd officials urged those present to remove their phones at some point. “When the Olympic flame is about to go out,” said the host, “pick up the phone, turn it on and rock to the music.”


So they did, these well-tested representatives of the well-tested Games, these people who went through security checks and smears of their mucous membranes and all sorts of other gates, portals and checkpoints to gather here for an event that should symbolize the planet. unite in a spirit of excellence and friendly competition.

In the “Phone Age”, humanity is negotiating a new relationship with itself. But when we hold in our hands our beautiful and horrible devices, whether it be swaying in unison at the Olympic Stadium or sitting alone and stretching through the air, are we together, but always apart? Or separately, but always together?

The smartphone, which in 2022 was just a teenager – like many teenagers – sucked out most of the oxygen in the room. And when these Olympians in the Bird’s Nest held their phones in the sky to become totems of warmth and unity against the cold and COVID, the Chinese song “You and I” sounded, and the words “One World” were reflected in the fireworks, it was easy to wonder : is this now the best connection we can hope for?



Ted Anthony, AP director of new stories and news innovations, former Asia-Pacific News Director and former China News Editor and covers his seventh Olympics. Follow him on Twitter at

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