Mobile AL Ice Storm

Social Media, it has consumed our lives, and essentially it has become the primary way for us to communicate with our friends, family, and in a really creepy way—strangers.

According to a recent article by social media news site Mashable.com titled How Social Media is Taking Over the News Industry,  “more than 50% of people have learned about breaking news via social media rather than official (or more traditional, such as TV, and and radio outlets) news sources.”

This is certainly not the era of Mr. Walter Cronkite.

Facebook wall showing people informing during the ice stormThese stats, and the ever-changing landscape of news was never more evident than when Southerners were recently treated to a rare winter storm, more specifically—winter storm Leon (Right? Leon?). The storm, a blip in the minds of our northern brethren, quickly caused havoc and elicited fears of the coming apocalypse across the south.

Aside from the power going out all across the South, people (particularly in Birmingham and Atlanta) quickly found themselves trapped on ice and snow covered interstates during rush hour. When their local governments failed to respond appropriately to Leon, social media was ready and waiting for them to voice their opinions, displeasure and “heroic” stories of rescue and compassion. No social media medium was spared, all of the popular channels were FULL of posts, including: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Bob Grip Twitter feedTwitter users like Mobile, Ala.’s, Bob Grip of WALA-FOX 10, tweeted helpful news about important area updates and information using #mobwx. In nearly all cases, the most useful tips were about road closings and/or unsafe driving conditions (due to the South’s lack of resources in cases of extreme winter weather—give us a Cat 5 hurricane, but NOT an ice storm).

On the flip side, regular people, like Michelle Sollicito of Marietta, Ga. (Atlanta suburb), created a Facebook page called “SnowedOutAtlanta,” to help stranded motorists. NBC News reported that more than 400 stranded motorists reached safety during the Leon thanks to Sollicito’s use of social media.

But, there was time to play, as college students took advantage of their “snow day,” by finding creative ways to play in the “snowpocalypse.” With roads and basketball courts turning into mini ice rinks, many turned to Instagram to post funny videos and pictures of “sledding” in makeshift sleds, or laundry baskets. Others chose the safer alternative, by making mini snowmen.

ERipley and Kristin prepped for the Ice Stormven here at Hummingbird, as we worked during this “snowpocalypse,” we posted pictures of us keeping warm!

When it comes to communicating, especially during emergency situations, social media can easily become the place for news, the “hero,” and a place to make light of an otherwise miserable situation. So, as Social Media enthusiasts, we’ll be anxiously (somewhat apprehensively) awaiting the next “gift” from Mother Nature, to see how YOU respond via social media.

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