I heard about the Japan quake quickly after it had happened via Facebook. A friend publicly offered prayers to those people while simultaneously letting her friends know that something had happened. From there, I went to twitter to investigate. Searching #japan, led to me to CNN’s You Tube profile where they had already put together a piece concerning the quake and were now waiting for the impending tsunami. Jumping over to CNN.com I watched the carnage unfold as it happened from the other side of the planet.
In the days that passed, and more coverage came in, from massive flooding, to the nuclear crises, it occurred to me that I had not consumed one bit of information via television, or a newspaper. And only fleetingly did I catch anything on the radio.
All the information that I got came from my book-bag and my pocket. My net-book and smart-phone.
Jumping from different sources on the internet initially got me informed. The new“Word-of-Mouth” on Facebook pushed me to scrape the global consciousness using Twitter. From there I was directed to the most popular source of the news at the time, CNN.com, which at the time had the most extensive coverage.
This jumping from different mediums within a medium allowed me to not only discover something that had happened, but allowed me to “ride-along” with the event as it happened. Due to the gravity of the situation, it was hard to not feel as if I was a participant as it unfolded. These tools, not only allowed me to research my subject, but to experience it.
Granted, not everyone can or will have this experience. There is a tradeoff to being able to participate in such networks. Facebook requires your privacy and will not allow you to participate anonymously, all the while selling your interests to the highest bidder. Twitter is a great tool if used properly, and is still used by a small portion of the population. However, one has to wonder if the importance in the event has been completely lost at times when the 4th highest trended word of that day was “Godzilla!”
So for all benefits that the new system of tools provide us, it can only go as so far as one is willing to use them. So maybe, now more then ever, the news is optional. Take it or leave it. Or simply use it for your own amusement.