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World Cup games stress the hardships of Information Age

It happens during so many World Cups to so many soccer fans in this part of the world. While keen on following the matches, the punishing hours of tournaments that are often several time zones away have forced many Asian viewers to skip live broadcasts. Unable or unwilling to give up precious sleep to get real-time action, they wait half a day to get their fix by watching recorded matches.

The wait itself, while long, is not the most painful experience for these fans. What is worse is the trouble they have to face to avoid the results being prematurely revealed. In order to achieve that, they basically have to shun social life and the media for the better part of the World Cup month.

The challenging task starts with their morning cup of coffee, which they will have to enjoy without the usual TV news or newspaper. On the way to work or school, they have to avoid getting on a bus that has radio news and be wary being blindsided by fellow passengers holding up their newspapers. Then comes a whole half day of sternly reminding friends and colleagues or classmates of the news blackout they have maintained. Only by withdrawing from the world can they keep the unknown unknown. And there is no guarantee of success.

If that sounds hard enough, the Internet and social media raise the bar to an almost impossible level. In the digital age, information comes to people. The official World Cup smartphone app is a good tool, but it sends people alerts of all match results within minutes of them being over. News apps also keep users posted on the latest major match results and other World Cup surprises. While people can switch these alerts off (with some difficulty), they can't stop their enthusiastic friends from broadcasting their favorite matches and sharing the ups and downs of their beloved soccer stars on Facebook. Protecting the freshness of finished matches now requires one to be a hermit both offline and online.

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