Tragedy and the Impact of Social Media

Melissa_M_MessageTragedy.  As racers near the finish line and the crowd cheers them on, there’s a flash, then flying debris, billowing smoke, and the wails of the wounded and the terrified.

Tragedy.  Panicked bystanders cower or run, not knowing what will happen next.  Brave helpers tend to the wounded, the distraught.  People the world around, at computers, listening to radios, watching TV’s try to make sense of the unfolding events.  Everyone is touched … and everyone worries.

Tragedy in the moment of triumph.  The images are so vivid and filled with human pain.

As soon as I heard the news out of Boston, my mind went immediately to Melissa McCreery of Too Much on Her Plate, who I knew was running the Marathon.  Was she okay?  Where was she?  How could I find out?

As it turned out, Facebook offered the answer, not only in Melissa’s case (thankfully she was okay) but in hundreds upon hundreds of others.  It provided a venue for quickly sharing vital information with concerned citizens, world-wide.

There were links shared, where people could check up on the whereabouts and condition of runners.  Not only did these social media outlets help get information to those desperate for it, but the extensive web of networks allowed first responders to respond more, and perhaps worry less about communication.  The connections in and amongst people let the word to spread organically, quickly, and efficiently to everyone who was thirsty for it.

Tragedy is disorienting.  Sorting it all out takes time.  And the social media has been very instrumental in helping people begin to get their bearings.

As the dust continues to settle, my heart hurts for everyone affected by this tragedy – and that is all of us.

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