Social Media as a Lifeline: The Boston Marathon

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The world turned to Boston on April 15, 2013. Instagram photos of the kindness of strangers were shared, as well as the shocking images of those injured. Tweets and Facebook posts went viral and one can see how corporate accounts and high profile individual users shared information to their expansive networks.These social networks provided space for a narrative by first hand witnesses that mainstream news outlets may not have reported.

What impressed me most was Google’s person finder, an interactive document where users could search or post information about those missing in the area. I can’t imagine the panic of loved ones who worried for their friends and family running in and present at the marathon. Another impressive Google document included residents who offered their homes to runners and fans who needed a place to stay, a snack or a shower in the Boston area after the 42.195 km run, as many of the hotels in the area were on lockdown.

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On the other hand, choose your words wisely because once something is posted on the Internet, it never goes away! I was shocked by these examples featured on Salon.com and that opinion makers and corporations took this heartbreaking moment to capitalize or air our racist ignorance.

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Once the perpetrators were identified, Americans were interested to peek inside the thoughts of those who could carry out such a heinous act. The alleged Twitter account (@J_tsar) of the younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, offers some interesting insight into his interests, and most shockingly his Tweets after the bombing.  His account now has over 100,000 followers and he is also a reported Instagram user.

Through this disaster, we can learn the most effective ways to prepare ourselves and diffuse pertinent information. The City of San Francisco presents SF72, which can serve as an excellent model for every city. The project should be rolling out in the next few months. “Let’s take stock of our skills and resources. Let’s not wait until a disaster to show how connected we are. Let’s start small and go from there, together.”

In a world where people use social media to update every minute detail of their lives, it’s comforting to know that it can also be a place to come together, whether it be to give a hand in making a difference or spread support, in the same city, country or worldwide community.

(Photo credit: Forbes, Salon, Twitter)

Eidos Tweet: Social media: much more than a place to chat and post photos. It can also be a lifeline… 

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