Quick Fire Thoughts on Boston And Social Media, 15-20 April, 2013

This is a very quick little blog and will not be well thought out at all because like the rest of the internet I need sleep now.

Twitter, and I assume Reddit too, is in very high spirits. This is a freaking weird moment... this whole spectacle has been strange from start to finish. I don't mean what has happened, but the way we have all become involved in some small way, invested in the story of the people this is actually affecting, even though we don't know them, they don't know us... Hell, we live on different continents.

It has been very much like watching a film, following it all as closely as I have. It's that same level of emotion; invested yet detached. Whatever happens will affect me emotionally, but at the end of it nothing in my life will have actually changed. I can turn off and not think about it. Sadness at the loss of life, elation at the capture of a suspect. I feel these things along with the people on the ground, yet when I close my computer those feelings will rapidly dissipate, just like watching a film and turning off the TV (except the final episode of Spartacus, I lost sleep...).

I did what many other Twitter users did on the day of the explosions and then the day of the manhunt; passed on information about what had happened, where to get help and what the police were advising and doing (until they told everyone to stop tweeting police locations to avoid telling the Tsarnaev where they were, d'oh!).

I did my best to make sure everything that I passed on was verified and accurate (can haz job at Big Media? I'm better than your interns. Pay me in tea and I'm happy) and also slapped it onto Facebook for people who think Twitter is the devil. In a teeny, tiny, iddy bitty way I felt involved. I wasn't. Not really. Just a drop in the ocean. Just an oxygen atom hugging two hydrogen atoms in the Universe at large. Which again, goes along with my film analogy; I felt involved, but I wasn't. I was attached yet detached to the events.

The internet and modern, civilian reporting, is more human and touching than what mass media news outlets produce. It's also massively sourced. During this whole Boston event I've probably read thousands of tweets, from thousands of people. Not just reporting what is going on, on the ground, outside their own homes, but commenting too. There have been insightful and funny remarks about events, people's assumptions and the failings of both mass media AND civilian reporting. In these past three days I have seen into the hearts and minds of thousands of people all talking about the same sad, scary and shocking event. Thousands.

We are not even ships in the night, and yet we leave a permanent, if tiny mark on each other. Asteroids picking up dust from each other's trails... I'll stop with the space stuff now.

It's been an... interesting, enlightening, heartbreaking, rage inducing and most of all strange experience, from a Twitter addict's point of view.

NB; Fucking well done Boston PD! Not just for apprehending Tsarnaev ALIVE but on the calm, collected way you conducted your search and the arrests that followed as well on keeping everyone safe and informed. Excellent use of Twitter!
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