I felt compelled to write a short blog after the terrible events in Boston on Monday night. This is not discussing what happened, which was absolutely horrific, and it isn’t going to comment about the ongoing investigation. It is a quick reflection on the impact of social media and how people learnt about and understood events.
To start with a large number of people will have heard about the events through social media. I was preparing to take part in a Google+ hangout on air with communication colleagues based in America. I was able to have a discussion about what was unfolding through G+. Within seconds photographs, audio, video and commentary about what had happened were circulating across all social networks.
Boston Police did a fantastic job on Twitter as they tried to make themselves the trusted voice providing updates as events unfolded. (Follow @Boston_Police) In such challenging circumstances they attempted to tackle the rumours by providing as much information as they could. This is never easy when dealing with an ‘act of terror’. Those behind the account deserve praise for their regular updates. From a very early stage they were also encouraging people to send them the photographs, video, audio or anything else that they had from around the event. The difficult is going to be maintaining the level of communication and engagement as the investigation progresses.
The events unfolded thousands of miles away but yet they felt so close to home. Twenty-four hour news channels have brought events from all around the globe right into our homes. But this was more personal than that. Through social media I have developed friendships with people at home and abroad. Actually knowing people who have been caught up events is really sobering and makes the events more real than even rolling news can make it.
This week we have seen social media being able to make a really positive impact, from those sharing information to those offering places for people to stay. There was also an outpouring of emotion and messages of support from across the globe. Social networks really can bring people together to unit in times of crisis.
My thoughts are with all those affected.