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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In Which I Am In Awe Of The Positive Power Of Social Media

Okay, so I have a well-documented love/hate relationship with social media. I love Facebook for it's warm, fuzzy family feel and the way it has allowed me the opportunity to reconnect with friends with whom I'd lost track. By contrast I have been openly antagonistic towards Twitter, even though I am an active participant.

I know. It makes no sense.

Whereas I find Facebook a viable, legitimate form of cyberspace communication with your real-life friends and family; Twitter seems shallow, superficial and narcissistic. More a time wasting vehicle for self-serving drivel and the famous to court each other while promoting their own careers.

That opinion changed after the events of this past week.

When the devastating earthquake befell Haiti, it became known, via Twitter, that two local sisters, Jaime and Ali McMutrie (actual sisters, not nuns) who have selflessly spent the past few years of their young lives caring for and placing hundreds of Haitian orphans, were forced to live on their lawn because their building was unstable. They had very little fresh water, food or supplies and over 100 children for which to care.

Desperate to get the girls and the children to the US safely, a beloved local blogger formerly known as Pitt Girl, (Virginia Montanez) put the call for help out via the much maligned by me, Twitter. And boy did people step up. Folks spread the word across the country by retweeting info and working whatever connections they had to get coverage on the networks and newspapers, procure supply donations, charter planes, and plead with the politicos to slice through the red tape of government bureaucracy in order to transport 54 children to Pittsburgh.

Then yesterday after overcoming numerous obstacles, the plane carrying the orphans touched down at Pittsburgh International Airport. You can watch the video here. I can tell you there was not a dry eye in the studio.

There are so many people to thank for the happy outcome of this ordeal. Many of those involved will never be known. The politicians and hospital PR yahoos got to stand in front of the press conference mic and pat themselves on the back for a job well done, but the reality is this...

A blogger was able to galvanize the public and prod the political machine into swift action by using the immediate connective capabilities of Twitter.

The events of this past week have given me a new found respect for the impact of these networks. Through them the world has gotten so small--in a good way. Do I still think these sites are a waste of time? Sure, but right now... at this minute, I am in awe of the positive power of social media.

1 comment:

demoncat said...

this story just proves the power of technology can be a gift espically with sites like facebook and twitter like them or not. some times they use their power for good.