There will be time for more thoughtful analysis later. For now I wanted my students in particular to check out how today’s bombings in Mumbai are playing out in various social media.
I suggest you search Twitter using hashtags such as #MumbaiBlasts, #Mumbai, and — believe it or not — #here2help. You should also look for other video and accounts on YouTube and Facebook.
And remember: this flood of messages is inevitably packed with everything from the ridiculous to the sublime, from false claims to painful and urgent truths. When I suggest that you get a feel for the role that social media can play in events like these, I am not making any claim about accuracy. They simply are a fact of global social life in the 21st century.
The sad fact is these types of tragedies do seem to reveal so many of the potential uses and abuses, opportunities and dangers, of social media. And every so often, some truly profound development finds its way through the confusion and crowd of the digital world, and quickly commands global attention.
The trick will be for all of us to give up our passivity and see the flood of messages from social media as a resource that requires us to actively be our own editors — to evaluate, curate, edit, and ultimately accept or reject what we discover.
It’s worth a look.