Why do we turn to social media during a crisis?


On Tuesday, July 29th, the UCLA campus and nearby Westwood streets were flooded when a water main on Sunset Boulevard broke, sending a 30-foot geyser in the air.

The story consumed news sources on television, the internet, and radio. Later that day, when I logged onto Facebook, I was met with post after post about the incident. People cooked up a variety of hashtags. #UCLAke. #UCLApocalypse. Many people posted pictures of the flooded fields, plazas, and stadiums.

It seems that, when in crisis, people like to turn to social media. Whenever there is an earthquake, our newsfeeds blow up with earthquake posts. Whenever there is a tragedy, such as a horrific shooting, Facebook overflows with condolence notes.

Why is this? Why do we feel the need to point out an earthquake through a status update when at least half of our followers or friends felt the ‘quake themselves? Why do we deem Facebook and Twitter appropriate spaces to express our condolences for the victims of tragedy?

How would we cope with or discuss these kinds of crises if we did not have social media?

Post submitted by JoAnna


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