First, let me send my thoughts and prayers to everyone who was in attendance at the Boston Marathon or knew someone there Monday. Whether you were a spectator, a runner, a volunteer, a first responder or someone who was injured or lost a loved one, you are in our hearts and prayers during this time. What happened Monday was a senseless and evil act, and I hope the culprit is found and properly punished.
I had originally written a post for this week highlighting how the St. Jude Country Music Marathon is using social media to connect with its runners. I had even written a follow-up to that post about how local brands are connecting themselves to the marathon and their audiences through social media.
This tragic event hit close to home, as I am preparing for my first-ever half marathon next week. I immediately thought, ‘Could this happen to us in Nashville?’ Human nature caused me to retreat inward, and go into self-defense mode. Should I still run? Should I still ask my husband and friends to come downtown to cheer me on?
I grew even more upset when, moments after the news of the bombing, my phone alerted me of a text message. It was from an out-of-town friend who knew I had been training for the upcoming race. His text read, “Please tell me you are in Nashville.” When I read that text, I immediately replied that I was safe, but then went to Twitter to get news on the unfolding events of the day.
Social media did not take a moment of silence — it took action. It became a bullhorn for the first responders to safely clear the area. Within seconds, it was a platform for breaking news and developments, and became a wall of thoughts and prayers into the night. Some of the first updates came from runners and spectators as they turned into reporters, showing photos and video in real time. ABC News even tagged the event as the first U.S. terror attack of the social media generation.
Social media brought the events of Monday into our homes, offices, cars and schools. It served as a tool to make people aware, and possibly kept others out of harm’s way. Social media has become another way for our world to communicate, and I expect that we will see the importance of all platforms grow as breaking news and tragic events sadly continue to occur.