In this day and age, there could never be a natural disaster without a significant amount of social media commentary. According to a recent article by USAToday, people waiting for its arrival and those already affected by Hurricane Irene took to Facebook and Twitter to post comments and share information with the online world.
Some posts were used to share updates about power outages, road closings and other trouble cause by Hurricane Irene. Dozens of pages on Facebook were dedicated to the storm. People took to social media to express concern, inform loved ones of their safety, and show remorse for those who lost their lives.
Yet others chose to use social media to express emotions of a different sort related to the hurricane; irritation. Category 1 was one of the top trending topics on Twitter this past weekend. Posters on Twitter accused the media and local and state officials of blowing the hurricane out of proportion and overreacting, calling it a Category 2 storm instead of Category 1.
Twitter posts from residents of New York City talked about the inconvenience of shutting down the city. The mass transit system in NYC was closed down for the first time in its history to prepare for the hurricane’s landfall upon the city.
Still, as some cared to share their irritation or blast their media over the hurricane, some took to the social media airwaves to urge others to take it seriously. No matter what category the hurricane was or how it compared to storms in the past, Irene still caused billions of dollars of damage up and down the East Coast, left hundreds of thousands without power, and killed at least 24 people.
It’s no surprise that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were flooded with comments and posts about Hurricane Irene. Any monumental event such as a natural disaster will provoke social commentary, and the easiest way to share your opinion with the world these days is via social media. If our country was being bombed to pieces, there would still be people running from the path of destruction with a smartphone in their hands, trying to type out a message about the inconvenience of it all with buildings blowing up left and right and jets flying overhead.
The nature of social media is that anyone can post anything they want at any time. This means that we must take the good with the bad. Certain people decided to use Facebook and Twitter to provide useful information to the rest of the world about the hurricane, such as its path of destruction, road closing, power outages, and refuge shelters for those stranded.
But of course, others like to abuse the access and wide broadcast of social media to complain about the media coverage or the inconvenience of having to evacuate. Social media represents all spectrums of society, and if we are going to subject ourselves to the content, we must hear what everyone has to say.