How did you find out about the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013? More likely than not, you probably find out from a Social Media site. I know I did. An analytic company studying Twitter stated that around 4:10 p.m. there were over 300,000 mentions of “Boston explosions.” Just 20 minutes later, there were 700,000 mentions of the “Boston Marathon.”
The amount of support that was seen through Social Media sites throughout the day on the 15th, was incredible. People were sharing their emotional reactions, and it was spreading. Quickly after the spread of the news, support from the community was starting to shine through the feeds. The hashtag #prayforboston was trending, and more than 75,000 tweets mentioned “Pray for Boston” within an hour. Tweets were being written about how the person posting was willing to help. People were tweeting the addresses of Red Cross locations for people to go to donate blood, or if they needed more help. People were even willing to house people who were evacuated from the buildings in which they resided.
While Social Media support is great, it does not always come in such generous forms. There were many people who were oblivious to the tragedy taking place in the city of Boston. Many people went along their day like nothing had happened at all. While I am not suggesting that the world needs to stop when there is a tragedy, I am suggesting that people need to start thinking about their audiences. While some people are grieving the loss of a loved one, they may seek support from others who are grieving as well. Social Media becomes a great place to get this support, but when Newsfeeds and Twitterfeeds are clogged with spring break pictures, or mindless sentences like, “I love my dog,” people become upset with the lack of support that they are getting. It is even worse when people who are not grieving start attacking those who are. Many tweets sending condolences to those who lost during the bombing at the Boston marathon were replied to with things like, “Things like this happens everyday in the Middle East. What is so special about Boston?” While there is always going to be hate in the world, it is not necessary to attack someone for posting a compassionate Tweet or status update.
It truly is amazing to consider the amount of power that Social Media sites have. But it is true that this power is not always a good thing. I know that happy thoughts are the best medicine when it comes to a grieving country, but sometimes people take it too far. Please be aware of the people that are reading the things you post. Someone who is grieving may not be appreciative of a picture of you in a bikini, or with a cold beer in your hand. In a world where the forces of hate are becoming as common as the forces of love, let’s try to be sensitive to the people around us. I know that you would want other people to be conscious of your troubles, too.
To read more about the effects of social media on country wide tragedies, please refer to the following articles: