I was one of the lucky ones. Located in an evacuation zone, I didn’t evacuate. Didn’t think the storm would amount to much, until I noticed the Hudson River coming over its banks at about 9:30AM Monday morning, some 11 hours before the highest expected tide. By then, my car was locked in the garage that would become its coffin. But I digress.
Like many, I was glued to the TV and my second screen (iPhone) paying attention to what was happening outside. Grateful for the respite from the election, I was watching these silly news casters knee deep in water talking about the drama of the situation. Then, I’d shift to Facebook1 to get the “real” story from my friends.
By the time the storm was over, the real story was worse than you could imagine. I stayed glued to social media outlets through the weekend, but mostly gave up on news media except to get a consolidated list of logistics (when power was coming back, what parking/traffic rules were in effect, etc.). I couldn’t help but notice that the news media needed to invent drama. People defending their homes with bows-and-arrows or stories about how “NJ-ians were helping each other, but NY-ers were not” (Bullshit, by the way.).
The real story was on Twitter.
The real story was social-communication with my friends on Facebook. A virtual shoulder to lean on, if you will. (Do people still use the word “virtual”?)
I’ve been around social for a while. I have a particular fascination for the cultural effects of technology on (individual and group) behavior. I know how Twitter is credited for a role in the Arab Spring, and how Facebook is being used to fight bullying. But, this is the first time I noticed the contrast between the authentic connections that social media creates vs the backdrop of manufactured drama created by the news media.
I can’t help but wonder if Hurricane Sandy ends up being some sort of turning point from old-media to new, as we pivot to authenticity. I’m excited by the possibilities of authentic media driving communications and relationships. Could become very satisfying.
Update November 8, 2012:
Transparency drives accountability. Look at some of the fall-out.
NJ Under-Sheriff Resigns Over Generator. He used a town generator to power his home during the storm.
NY State Disaster Response Chief Fired for Using Disaster Response Crew to Clear his Driveway. Hard to tell from the article, but sounds like this asshole wasn’t even using the house at the time.
- Because this was local, I found Facebook — where I have ‘real’ friends — to be more helpful than Twitter. [↩]