When super-storm Sandy was making her way to NYC, I was sitting in my little cube at my job in California. I have a little TV in my cube and so do my coworkers, and all of the TVs were on and tuned in to the news but the sound was off and backs were turned, the faces were reading Twitter.
Every desk I walked by was pouring over a Twitter feed of some kind. That’s how I got my news, too. I read Ice-T and Coco, who were breaking down the storm from New Jersey, and Julie Klausner who was in the thick of Manhattan. Even today I’m following their updates about the storm. Julie was evacuated to a friend’s apartment with her cat, and Ice-T and Coco still have no power.
I was watching my feed as my friends in New York tweeted that they were okay, where they were, and what was happening. Later during the hurricane, I fell in love with Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.
The night of the storm I lay in bed and saw a RT from Bette Middler of Cory Booker. I clicked on his feed, I had no idea who he was at the time, but I saw this man responding to tweets every few seconds. ‘DM me your address I’ll come there’, when someone would say the emergency number wasn’t working he would reply with one that was. When someone said power was out he responded with “I’ll report it, I’m in the area do you need anything?” he was out all night. Three days later he’s still updating people on Twitter letting them know he’s there.
When word got out that the NYC Marathon was going to go on, I watched my feed explode with anger. People going on and on about how awful it was to not cancel it and a few hours ago I watched as they rejoiced that Bloomberg announced that due to an outcry on social media, the race had been canceled. I saw pictures of people sharing power with signs that said “We have power, please use it to charge your phones or go online”. Getting online was a connection, it let us know you were there and what you needed.
I saw the storms devastation on Instagram and Twitpics, I saw the share link for the Google doc that was listing displace persons, and I read the hashtag #NOLATONYC where survivors of Katrina reached out and comforted people over 1,300 miles away.
Like it or not our lives play out over social media. Or lives intersect over social media. It is an age of rapid fire information. And is that always such a bad thing?