Thoughts - Written by on Thursday, November 27, 2008 18:30 - 0 Comments

The Social Web rallies around Mumbai

Yesterday afternoon, within minutes of the first reported attacks on the city of Mumbai, Twitter channels went into overdrive with breaking news, proving once more the extensive reach that social media has on our world.

Ironically enough on the previous  day I had drafted a blog post on the topic of a hyper-connected society, where I even contemplated cutting myself off for a while: no Internet, no emails, and no social networks.


Mere hours after setting my latest draft to rest, I turned on the TV where a news bulletin was airing shocking images of the wounded and the dead.  With the breath sucked out of me, and trying to make sense of the sights and sounds, I sat stunned in front of my laptop in search for a semblance of comprehension. Consciously opting to bypass the sensationalism of some mainstream media pages, I logged in to my Twitter account, where as I expected, international citizen reporters were posting their accounts fast and hard.

Glued to the #mumbai Twitter updates while contributing my small part by relaying messages containing vital information on

crisis hotlines and latest news developments, I no longer felt compelled to retreat into a technology-free zone.  I was humbled by what I saw: messages on social networks flying by furiously from friends and families inquiring on the whereabouts of loved ones – and strangers forwarding these messages on to help gain visibility; people from far and wide offering to help make phone calls to track down the missing; websites being set up by online activists in record time giving people centralized forums to post their messages of condolences or air their pleas for help; blogs aggregating citizen reports; a Flickr account set up for photo uploads from people on the ground; Google maps showing to-the-minute crisis hot-spots; a new page on Wikipedia crafted in minutes ready for editing by citizen reporters…

At that moment in time, I was relieved and grateful to have a real time connection to the rest of the world. The rant of my perceived addiction to the digital sphere felt downright silly and more than inappropriate considering the events of the day.

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The world, and nothing in it, was making sense. Watching Mumbai under siege, I felt furious, heartbroken, confused, helpless, but knowing that WE were rallying in solidarity, I didn’t feel alone.  And in fact, I felt empowered – and proud – by our ability to mobilize and take action on behalf of our fellow man.

Tonight the insanity continues and the world still doens’t make much sense. But as the drama unfolds and we weep along with the people of Mumbai, we can gain some comfort that this latest show of human solidarity extends beyond more than a triumph of the social web – it’s a coup for the collective spirit of its users.

Mumbai, WE stand with you.

[Search for the latest Mumbai updates on Twitter by using #mumbai]

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