Sometimes it takes a literal gust of wind to break you out of a bubble… Living in this crazy city I now call home, it’s hard to keep up on the happenings going on outside of the Nashville bubble. It’s not until news breaks at home that I snap back to reality. In the midst of the hurricane that’s attacking the northeast I find myself bombarded with updates from the media and strangers as well as family and friends. The impending doom in the sky my mom alerted me of just days ago is now the source of chatter all over the Internet. And everyone’s digesting the updates through different mediums… coverage from major media outlets, Instagrammed pictures of the sky, personal Facebook statuses and tweets, even a parody Sandy twitter handle is sweeping the nation. In light of this crisis, I wanted to take a look at all that’s been cluttering my browser and examine just how America is responding to Sandy in the online world. So here’s my top of this week: the Top 3 Ways America’s Weathering this Storm.
3. Sandy wreaks havok in the news.
As soon as Sandy hit the Northeast, NY Times began full minute-to-minute coverage of its deadly effects. Videos, photographs, real-time accounts, and updates flood the “Live Updates” feed on the homepage of the paper. The jarring statistics of the death tolls and state-by-state power outages are accompanied by personal accounts from those faring the storm as well as alarming images of the destruction. The Times is just one following every moment. Twitter is home to further coverage from media outlets – celebrities and news stations alike commenting on the events and offering advice to those in its line of terror. The media is using its resources to process through the debris and make sense of the chaos that continues to ensue due to Sandy. During a time when America’s looking for answers, the media is there to lay the cold hard facts on the table.
2. Sandy brings together masses of strangers.
Everywhere you look strangers and friends alike are posting and commenting with thoughts and prayers for those suffering through the storm. Facebook statuses, tweets, and blogs have been spreading well wishes to the affected areas. Being from Jersey, my social media feeds have overwhelmed me with words to stay safe. Everyone from my hometown to natives of as far across as California is posting encouraging words to help those who are in the midst of this. Americans truly come together, whether affected directly or indirectly, by whatever crisis is occurring at the time. With Sandy, many are reaching out through words. Kind thoughts. Prayers. Personal messages. Near and far Americans are sending a communal hug to the East Coast.
1. Sandy will leave behind a collection of snapshots for the generations.
With every event large and small that has occurred in American history, photographs are one of the most valuable commemorations. The haunting moments of the storm are captured in snapshots taken on cell phones and chopper videos. Though the stories and statistics are absolutely horrifying there is something about images that make the destruction so much more dramatic and, for me, much closer to home.
My Facebook newsfeed has been far better than any news station. The images I see casually uploaded here are more chilling than any of those I’ve seen on the Times or FOX News. Mobile uploading is a way my friends from the affected areas are coping with the mess that’s taken over their lives. Though some deal with disaster through words or news breaks, those closest to me have been constantly posting images of their destroyed homes, cars, and beloved beach spots.
Pictures of trees wrecking some of my friends’ homes. A car submerged in water. The images of Manhattan swamped in water. My brother’s texts of his flooded street in Hoboken. Snapshots of the destroyed Financial District. However what prove to strike the biggest chord among fellow Jerseyites are the striking shots of the Jersey Shore. The before and after of Seaside boardwalk…the rollercoaster in the midst of the ocean. Atlantic City homes under water and torn apart. Friends’ homes completely and utterly demolished in LBI. Places I grew up going to. More than that, they are places that most people from Jersey know and love.
The Jersey Shore will never be the same. Yes, these images have affected me personally. However, the ways in which we’re documenting our personal experiences is having broader affects on our out-of-town friends, strangers, and will leave a sandy footprint on Jersey’s historical timeline. Our online world is becoming more and more intertwined in writing our nation’s history. This is undeniable. But it’s events like Sandy – events that affect us personally, those we document, those we share among friends, those we deal with personally through social media expression – that prove the impact our digital documentation is having on our history as a whole.