Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Twitter & Tragedy: How Social Media Spreads News

Twitter and tragedy in the same sentence? It seems a bit peculiar but there I was, glued to my timeline as reports, some true and false, flooded my feed. Twitterverse was a flurry of news of varying sorts and credibility. Aside from trying to decipher what actually happened, as it was happening nonetheless, I was surprised at the swiftness of first person accounts and new stories.

As a race steeped in history and tradition, the Boston Marathon attracts over 10,000 runners from the across the world. Naturally this type of sporting event would be featured in the news as runners race for personal, professional and charitable reasons. Outside of the news anchors on hand at the finish line, there were countless spectators with their own devices capturing their teams and loved ones as they push through that last mile.

Unspeakable events took place in the heart of Beantown yesterday and there literally were digital cameras, phones and other gadgets to capture everything in real-time. It was almost as if another race was taking place. News outlets wanted their pictures, videos, interviews and whatever other inside scoops and angles featured first. A bit of a mad dash to say the least.

 I was not at a television but the speed in which tweets, with hashtags like #prayforboston, dominated the Twitterverse was amazing. The content was raw, real and utterly fascinating. It was riveting to virtually witness chaos while also being a part of a community of support. Soon, #prayforboston and #bostonmarathon were trending (and would remain so for many hours afterward).

Some of the heroic stories of spectators and first-responders are amazing. Thankfully, we have social media to be another window to the good that was shown amidst an evil attack. The fact that some runners continued to run to hospitals to donate blood is truly beautiful. It's more powerful than the evil attack itself.

Some memorable and heartbreaking tweets from yesterday...

This particular tweet was retweeted over 8,000 times! Speaks volumes.

Tragic events are just that - tragic. The beauty, even in tragedy, is that all walks of life can unite and help one another, online and offline. We are one. We are Boston.

If you would like to help those who were hurt or to offer tips to law enforcement, please click here.

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