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Social Networks Break News On Japan

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By Author: autor
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Social networks are the new news. I know this to be true because it was made apparent to me first thing this morning. This morning at about 4AM I wake and do what I normally do immediately after opening my eyes; I grab my cell phone. I look through the missed calls, I check out BlackBerry Messenger and then I head straight to my favorite: Twitter. Usually when scrolling through my Twitter timeline (especially at this hour of the morning) I'm met with insomniacs pleading for followers to wake up and chat, I see an occasional update about what's on, or not on television, I quickly scroll through the dreadful and always apparent trending topic #twitterafterdark (don't ask), I may leave my two cents (whatever I'm thinking at the time) and I go back to sleep. This morning was something all too different.

I wake up, grab my phone, click my Twitter icon and my heart sinks. Anderson Cooper, CNN Breaking News, TIME, and many of the others that I follow revealed to me, hot off the press, that Japan had experienced a tragic 8.9 earthquake that went on to spawn a deadly tsunami. My timeline was flooded with tweets of “praying ...
... for #Japan,” “disaster strikes #japan,” “threat of tsunami,” and all things tragic. Unbelievable, I thought to myself as my heart continued to race. I should mention here (just to further drive my point home) that after discovering what I'd discovered via Twitter my next inclination was to log on to Facebook. I did just that.

Facebook had caught wind of the tragic news too. Scrolling down my timeline I discover that there are others, much like myself, who woke to be informed by a social network that tragedy struck. Facebook and Twitter serve as micro blogs offering headlines but I needed the meat of the story so I decide to turn on my television for a more thorough explanation from the news. I flip, I flip, and I flip again. FINALLY, by the third news station there was coverage of the developing tragedy in Japan with threat of the tragedy striking Hawaii and the west coast of the United States. The social networks (namely Twitter and Facebook) had successfully reported breaking news with more angst than breaking news stations.

I'm really not quite sure what to attest to this. Perhaps news travels faster when we can connect to the actual source (the source in this instance being the thousands of tweets pouring in from Japan nearly an hour after the quake). Maybe these television news outlets decided to take a little extra time to produce a good segment. Most of these news outlets too have access to Twitter so to think that they were not informed is no option. Something made them a bit less adequate than social networks, just can't quite figure out what.

Whatever the reason, I am just thankful that I am privileged (yes, I do now see this as a privilege) enough to be connected to the world via Twitter and Facebook in a way that allows me to be informed, enlightened, to empathize, to share and to offer my condolences. Its days like this that all 500 of my Facebook friends feel closest to me and my followers on Twitter become my primary means of support. We are connected. I feel you. I do empathize and I thank you for sharing.

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