East Coast Earthquake - A Social Media Masterpiece
August 23, 2011
From Atlanta to New York City, an earthquake was felt by millions of people, and lots of them took to their devices to broadcast their experience. I went from unaware to 100% knowledgeable in a matter of seconds. Yes, seconds. My Twitter feed exploded. Every single tweet for a good 2 minutes was about the earthquake that started in Virginia and had the Pentagon evacuating (the Washington Post later reported this wasn't true.) My office didn’t feel it, but we didn’t have to. The amount of information pouring in through social networks was endless; we could almost experience it vicariously.
It started with regular people, friends, tweet mates, but then Reuters (which I hilariously pronounced “rooters”) and Associated Press tweeted the same story: that a 5.8 earthquake hit a huge part of the east coast. The sheer quantity of tweets and posts about the earthquake was mind blowing-ly enough to make you believe it was happening, even if you didn’t feel it for yourself. This was a brilliant display of social media networks and their users coming together to share crucial information with those who needed to know. Had the quake been more devastating, pictures, videos, and personal accounts of the incident would be immediately accessible, allowing for emergency responders to track, find, and rescue anyone or anything in danger.
My heart was racing, adrenaline pumping, preparing for our own building to rattle, but it did not happen. Someone said “earthquake” quietly and I immediately chimed in (blurted) that Twitter was going crazy, like a #twearthquake. I was so engulfed in the 5 minute adrenaline rush that a co-worked asked me to send her the links I was getting and all that came out was “check my feed.” I apologize to her if that came off as aggression; I was simply caught in the moment.
I am thrilled to have participated in and followed the epic social media outburst brought on by an event that none of us can control. An event curated by Mother Nature, someone we all have in common. Maybe that’s why social media works so well. People with common interests coming together to discuss them, and an earthquake that spans the east coast surely brings people together.
I see this as practice for future events. Some will be good, some will be scary, but we will be in the know with information flowing like a river – and that I am thankful for.
Please follow me, @chaddyd