The use of social media from someone in the general area of Boston

Like another classmate who previously posted, I was also planning to write on another subject. I was going to write about custom QR codes. I’ll probably still try to work that into my social media plan, or perhaps write a post about it later. But I feel like I should post about my social media life on Monday and Tuesday.

I live in southern New Hampshire. It’s roughly an hour north of Boston. I’m not supposed to be on Facebook at work, so I first heard about what was going on in Boston when I happened to go to the reference desk, where a coworker was looking at a news site. This was about 30-45 minutes after the explosions.

I knew one friend was home from work, because she’d posted about it. It was Patriot’s Day, so a lot of people in Mass either had the day off or were working from home. It just makes sense if you want to avoid the traffic mess the marathon causes. When I thought about it, I realized I actually know a lot of people who live or work in or near Boston. People who may’ve been running or watching the marathon. At that point I did go on Facebook, though it wouldn’t be until my workday ended that I could really comb Facebook for information and updates on people I knew.

I saw people checking in. I saw people asking other people to check in. I saw people offering to open their apartments to anyone who needed, well, anything. I saw people sharing information about where and when to donate blood. I saw others sharing information on websites to check on runners or other people. Early on, there were reminders to text rather than call, since it uses less bandwidth. I saw people sharing information as a way of helping, and I saw people just expressing general support and sympathy.

I had plans yesterday (Tuesday) to go into Boston to see Book of Mormon. I checked the Boston Opera House’s website to make sure it was still scheduled, but there was no information. I subscribed to their Facebook page, but there was nothing. Around about noon, I checked in again and there were people wondering what I was wondering.. was the performance going to go ahead? I had to resort to a phone call to get that information. Although eventually, around about 3pm, they finally did think to post to Facebook. Probably to help out their overloaded phone system. (I got a busy signal more than once.) And it was clear they didn’t keep much of an eye on their Facebook page normally. They post about once a month, and there were numerous spam comments on old posts that hadn’t been deleted.

I again used Facebook to inform my mother (mostly) and anyone else who might need to know, what my travel plans were. And I posted again when I got to Boston. And again when I got to the theater. Not that it did much good, because my mother still called me to ask!

My trip went fine. There were cops and military everywhere, but mostly they were just standing around. They were checking bags on the T and at the Opera House, but we hadn’t gone in with bags for that reason. The Celtics game was canceled, so there were no drunken revelers (or.. what’s the opposite of revelers?) to contend with. We thought some people might not have gone to the performance, but it was packed. I guess nobody wanted to miss Book of Mormon!

I am thankful my Facebook friends are, mostly, not the sort to post wild theories or condemn various groups without evidence.

I can’t help think about 9/11 and how I found out about NYC friends from mailing lists and blogs. I can’t say Facebook was any better, but it was different.

I’ll leave you with a link to an io9 post. How the Boston Marathon tragedy revealed the best side of social media.

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4 thoughts on “The use of social media from someone in the general area of Boston

  1. lauren peters

    Julie,
    In this semester, I have grown from a reluctant FB user to a person who can really see the power and relevance of social media. I am not very good at finding it as it is happening, but I am getting there….Thank you so much for sharing this uplifting story.
    Lauren

    Reply
  2. kallierees

    The benefits far outweigh the cons in situations like this. Your post and the post you linked to demonstrate that so well. In a tragedy, it’s hard not to focus on the bad, but it is impossible not to see the good as people come together to help and support. Social media allows a wider range of people to help and show they care. I hope all your Boston friends are okay.

    Reply

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