Monday's bombings of the 117th Boston Marathon has shocked everyone – who could want to bring violence to what is otherwise a peaceful, fun race? As of right now, there are no suspects, and no reasoning behind this tragic event. Only victims. The race will forever be marred by these events, and it has hit home yet again that we are all potentially at risk.
Yet, despite this horrific scenario, there is a silver lining. The Internet lit up with news of the attacks almost instantly. As soon as the first bomb went off, pictures, Tweets, Updates and more caught the chaos, and gave out information to the world about what was happening.
This was Internet journalism at its finest – there was little in the way of rumors or bad information. Instead there was a steady flow of people trying to share what information they had with the world outside Boston. Tweets from the Boston police urging people to leave the city were retweeted hundreds of times. Social media calls from the hospitals were picked up. Individuals even offered places to stay for runners who had nowhere else to go.
To be sure, there were those who laughed at the situation, or purposely spread lies, but the larger online community drowned them out.
Since phone connections were down for much of Boston – either by overuse or the police blocking them for fear of remote bombs – it was left up to social media for people to find their loved ones.
Google even set up a person finder to help people search for their missing friends and relatives just like they did for the Haiti earthquake three years ago.
This picks up on a trend I've mentioned before, that social media is quickly becoming the way information will be spread in times of chaos. Thankfully, many people in the world are handling it with the responsibility that requires.