Social Media Was Meant For Times Like These

Right now, it is 45 minutes before a Tsunami wave is set to hit the Hawaiian Islands. It’s been several hours since the earthquake in Chile, in which it is estimated that 500,000 people have been displaced from their homes. And I’m on Twitter and Facebook and listening to live streamed video on my laptop at my kitchen table in Colorado. The TV in the living room is tuned to CNN but I am more in tune with these stories because I’m monitoring my Social Media sites. In fact, I am in tune with the eye witnesses of the Chile earthquake, and have read a blog post by someone who experienced the earthquake and wrote about it right afterwards, thanks to a Twitter friend, @efrainortizjr, who posted it in his blog and tweeted it.

I’ve been re-tweeting tweets from @Mashable; @CNNbrk; @HawaiiRedCross; @epiccolorado and joined a group in Facebook called Supporting Chile Earthquake / Tsunami Victims and Families where residents of Chile and Hawaiian Islands are posting about what they are seeing going on in their parts of the world.  I’ve let my followers in Twitter and friends in Facebook know about all of these resources so they, too, can stay informed.

@epiccolorado’s Twitter bio says: EPIC is a research effort at CU and UCI to support the information needs by members of the public during times of mass emergency. EPIC was asking, today in Twitter, for Spanish Tweeters to help them:

I re-tweeted their tweet to my followers and sure enough, a friend I had met in D.C. last November at the LATISM Social Media conference, happened to see my tweet:

@eRomanMe ended up helping @epiccolorado. Here are some of the tweets between them at (click on “Show conversation”.)

I can hear my TV, from my living room, and CNN just lost its feed in Hawaii but my live stream on my laptop via (who is streaming it from UStream) is still going. My live stream from Chile (via UStream) is still sending images of the aftershocks as they are happening. My Twitter stream of PEOPLE, of course, is still keeping me informed, too, via different hashtags (#chile; #tsunami, etc).

Though I’m praying for everyone, I think my Hawaiian friends will be safe because they have had plenty of warning and there is a full moon which means a low tide. Hopefully, the Tsunami will not be as bad as it could have been. The people of Chile are in need of help right now, just like the people of Haiti last month. During the writing of this, I learned, from @Mashable, that Google launched a Chile Person finder app. You can enter the name of a person you’re looking for OR you can post information you have about a particular person.

Social Media was meant for times like these. Sure, there are people tweeting about what they ate for breakfast today while other people in the world don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight, let alone when they will get to eat again. But Social Media is like that: it’s made up of the thoughts, hopes, and dreams of millions and millions of people going about their daily lives. Some of us are shopping. Some of us are surviving. And some of us are praying.