Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it

The role of social media in a tragedy


Boston-marathon-Facebook-cover-photo-630x456Last week I wrote a post about what is important in life. Yesterday, I watched in shock as social media, and particularly Twitter, went crazy with reports, eyewitness accounts, pictures and comments about the explosions at the Boston Marathon. I actually began writing this post yesterday in the midst of it all, but decided I wasn’t thinking clearly enough.

Today I continued to follow the news and stay up to date on the latest reports of the news reports, press conferences, numbers of victims, and sadly, the death toll. The event is a sad reminder of the reality we live in. After 9/11, we were all wary. But as the years have passed, I think as Americans, we began to feel safe and comfortable again. Until yesterday. I know at least for me, the Boston Marathon tragedy has instilled a fear in me all over again. It reminded me that life is unpredictable and we are not living in safe times.

We are living in very different times now too. During 9/11, we did not have social networks.

When this horrible event happened in Boston, social media was a key source of information from the scene — from both professional and citizen journalists alike. In fact, one of the photos of the second blast was actually tweeted by someone who was there at the scene, and it was picked up by news outlets nationwide.

Thanks to social media, people are able to share the videos and photos they were taking at the time of the bombings. That could very well help officials identify the suspect(s) and bring him/her/them to justice.

Also thanks to social media, we are able to see and read about the good side of people in the face of tragedy — the volunteers who immediately jumped to the aid of the injured and innocent victims; the runners who, after completing a 26.2 mile race, continued running to donate blood; seeing the quick response of the countless first responders who I’m sure made a difference in the death toll from this horrific event.

Yes we are living in different times, scary times, but we are all brought together a little closer through social media. And I know I am very grateful for that link to others to share information, share our feelings, and empathize with each other during times like these.

I’m very fortunate to have met some wonderful people, thanks to social media. One of those people, Michelle Quillin aka (@NEMultimedia), posted something today that made sense to me: “It’s been a rough 24 hrs for all of us in New England,…but these are the trials that awaken our spirits.” So true, Michelle.

But as I said in last week’s post, social media should never take the place of actually holding a loved one and sharing your feelings. Remember there’s no replacement for that. So tonight, put down the tablet, the phone, the laptop, and hug your loved ones a little tighter.

What will you remember most about the Boston bombing?


Author: Nancy Jean

I love reading, writing, music, the beach, and being a mom to two rescue dogs. My job is social media for health care.

6 thoughts on “The role of social media in a tragedy

  1. Well said, Nancy.

    I found myself in a funk yesterday. Looking back, I know it was shock. Being active in Social Media as well, I too found myself immersed in yesterdays events. I found myself having to cope with, yes I agree, feelings similar to 9/11 again. Feelings of vulnerability. Feelings of anger that none of us know who among us will be the next perpetrator of unspeakable, inhumane acts. Yet… today is here and life goes on. Maybe a collateral benefit of the Role of Social Media in Tragedy is our coping skills, as a society, will be honed.

    Some would say coping skills are the key to sanity.

    • Hello Jim! So wonderful to hear from you. Thanks so much for reading and for the comment. I think a lot of us felt that funk and shock. And you hit it on the head – vulnerability. yes, I think we can sometimes feel bombarded by social, but at the same time, it allows us to feel connected to others and in a tragedy, that definitely helps our coping skills! I do hope you’re well. Talk soon on Twitter I hope!

  2. Nancy, thanks so much for the mention. I just got goosebumps reading this post for the second time; I’m not sure why! Perhaps because when I woke up this morning and saw the sun had risen again, I knew it was time to get up and get back to doing what I can to make this world a better place, being an encourager, instead of wallowing in the anger we’ve all experienced over the last two days as those images and videos screamed across the internet and cable news networks.

    Anger can be a phenomenal motivator, though, when it’s directed toward helping others! And people like you are doing that every single day. I’m glad you’re in my circle.

  3. “Social media should never take the place of actually holding a loved one and sharing your feelings.” Completely agree. That’s part of what I took away from these bombings. Life is precious. You never know what will happen next. So it’s vital to take action on what is important to you. It’s also vital to appreciate everyone, especially yourself. To mean, this means laying off self-judgment and taking more moments to enjoy myself.

    • Nat, sorry for the delay and thanks so much this incredibly thoughtful and insightful comment. I’m honored that you’ve read my blog and took the time to post this. Can’t agree with you more! THANK YOU, and be well.

  4. Pingback: What a week: Bomber tweets, Manhunts, and Big Papi’s F-Bomb | Just my two cents

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