When Facebook becomes a lifeline

Sections: Web, Web 2.0 / Social Networking

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Facebook is always being talked about. Some love it, some hate it, some have a love/hate relationship with it. For many it’s just a fun diversion, and for some an addiction. Games like Farmville and Words with Friends have millions of players. Connections are made, relationships nurtured. Facebook is a lot of things to a lot of people, but for people like me who survived Hurricane Sandy, it became a lifeline.

I spent most of Monday afternoon on Facebook, posting updates. At first I openly wondered if it would be another case of hype rather than reality, but when the winds got so bad that my house was shaking, I realized we were in a very very bad situation. I shared news reports, observations of what was happening outside, and weather updates. My friends and family who live far from here posted offering support and prayers. When we lost power and heat, I posted from my cell phone, describing the incredibly violent winds, eerie cloud to cloud lightning, and the bright blue flashes of exploding transformers that filled the sky.

My friends were clinging to every word, saying they preferred getting info from someone actually going through it than from the hysteria of the news reports. When we lost cell service and I went silent, my friends started to worry. “You haven’t posted in 13 hours,” wrote one, “I hope it’s only because you have no power/service!”

24 hours later I was back and checked in. Immediately people responded, glad I was okay. Family members posted, and with cell and phone service spotty, Facebook became a reliable way for people to check in and let everyone know they were okay and what was going on in their neighborhoods. My newsfeed was filled with posts asking if people had heard from so and so and imploring everyone to check in as soon as they were able. It was enormously supportive and comforting. Facebook became a life line and for many of us, the only way for us to connect with friends and family members and make sure we had all survived the worst storm in the history of New York and New Jersey.

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