The Outlook

#SOSHarvey Shows Positive Side of Social Media

Vanessa Zuleta

Anh Trinh, Editor

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As a young kid, the idea of the internet being a dangerous place was everywhere. Movies like “Cyberbully” and “The Den” put a stigma on anything related to being on online. We have grown up using social media like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, so we know the positive side. Now that we are older, we realize these platforms can be used to promote businesses, reach a wider audience and help others. However, most adults didn’t understand their importance until last week when Hurricane Harvey showed the world just how important social media can be in our lives.

After the hurricane came on land then went back out to sea a couple of times, it picked up force and left more devastation behind than what was predicted. When 911 was overwhelmed by the number of calls, those needing help turned to social media. Stranded groups and families used Twitter to be rescued, using #SOSHarvey, tweeting their location with a picture to emergency officials. Those in an elderly nursing home were saved when the owner’s son-in-law, Timothy McIntosh, tweeted a picture of the group in rising water with the caption “Need help asap emergency services. please RETWEET.” Help came three hours later.

On Facebook, Houston area residents could check in as safe to let their friends and family know they are okay. Also, group chats were created to put together missions and relay information to the rescuers to aid those still in need. Connie Randolph asked for help on Facebook by posting, “I need some help. There is a Place near me with displaced people with special needs from the flooded regions of Texas.” He immediately got responses from neighbors with boats.

Not only did social media serve as a place for people to ask for help, but it also offered ways to serve others like letting those with vehicles and supplies know where to find those that needed immediate help. A man on Facebook, T.J. Vu, posted that he was driving down from Indiana with supplies. Another man in Port Arthur, Kevin Conley, asked if there were “any families in the area who need food or water?”

The use of social media during and after Hurricane Harvey forever changed the way search and rescue will be done in the future. Never has a natural disaster this big been handled through these platforms.

In times like these, Twitter and Facebook have shown the good that can come from connecting people online. These outlets are no longer just a waste of time. Social media has evolved from posting your bathroom selfie to saving lives. As we come upon Hurricane Irma, make sure keep up-to-date on the latest news as it unfolds and not on the number of views on your Snapchat story.

 

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