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In the Wake of the Boston Tragedy, Social Media Provides a Lifeline
By: Aprel Phelps Downey
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America is once again grieving the loss of loved ones at the hands of someone else. As a nation it is another page in an all-too-familiar book. With very few answers and a million questions weighing heavy on the mind, we reach out to one another, share sentiments of love, and stand together as a nation vowing to bring the responsible party to justice.

In the moments following the Boston explosions time stood still. Those in attendance attempted to make sense of the events that just took place. Communication came to a virtual standstill. Cell phone lines were instantaneously jammed as people tried in vain to get in touch with loved ones known to be at the race. Likewise runners were trying to let family and friends know they were okay. While others were trying to reach out, emergency response personnel were trying to reach in so a rescue plan could be put into place. With phone lines jammed America turned to social media avenues.

This move quickly became America’s only source of communication in the midst of the Boston tragedy!

Marathon runners and bystanders sent out Facebook status updates and Instagram photo posts to let loved ones know they were safe. Tweets went out across Twitter from runners giving information on their exact whereabouts on the race course. Authorities utilized Twitter to reach out for information or provide tips. Emergency response personnel sent out tweets advising people to communicate via text message as opposed to attempting a phone call. The Boston Police Department sent out a tweet asking for videos or other images from the finish line.

Hashtags such as #bostonmarathon and #prayforboston quickly began appearing across Twitter. Situation updates and prayers under these hash tags soon followed. These updates included everything from runners letting loved ones know they were safe to people searching for one another. Instagram became flooded with pictures from those caught in the chaos on the streets. These photos captured moments that will forever change history. Google established a specific Boston Marathon explosions people finder page enabling users to search for someone or provide information about someone they may have been providing assistance to. In addition to the search option, resource phone numbers to authorities were also provided.

In the coming days and weeks social media will serve as the main informational source for updates on the Boston marathon tragedy. For many in our quiet, saddened nation, social media provided a lifeline that brought comfort in a moment when all other forms of communication fell silent.


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About the Author
Aprel Phelps Downey is a writing/marketing professional who holds more than seven years marketing experience, including all aspects of promotional and informational campaigns and website development.  To learn more about Aprel please visit her website at www.aprelphelpsdowney.com or follow her on twitter: @aphelpsdowney.
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