November 1, 2012 in TYTHE talks
by Ellie Wendell – Communications and Biz Dev consultant at TYTHEdesign
Hurricane Sandy has had a widespread and wide variety of impact throughout New York and the Northeast. In order to prepare for the storm state governments took decisive actions and disseminated information to warn those of their level of risk. Beyond the centralized avenues of information were the independent sources of friends, families and colleagues, giving preparation advice and sharing concern. When our internet went down we had sources from Kansas City, MO, calling and telling us what they had heard on the news. Some of the primary facilitators of these exchanges of information were social media venues. Throughout the storm they have been a very helpful way to stay connected and gain information. To find out if friends are okay and how they’ve been impacted, checking Facebook & Twitter have been the go-to venues for information. An event like Sandy highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of social media in information sharing.
Its centralized access to a variety of people’s experiences (although lack of internet due to storm can of course affect connection) can be much more efficient that reaching out to all through group emails or individual texts. Information about people’s experiences is also much more readily available and we could learn through our friends’ real-time posts, tweets and instagrams how they were faring through the storm. But sometimes the immediacy of the information and the variety of sources (our friends or who we follow on Twitter) can skew the veracity of the information. When trying to use the information spread through Twitter to deduce what is happening on a larger scale, we are required to piece together the slices of information each person presents as either fact, hearsay, or impression. Complicating that filtration process is also each person’s tendency. Is one friend particularly dramatic? Is another overly calm? The challenge then becomes what is true so that we can then react to that information either by re-tweeting or responding, or taking action. As users of Twitter we are highly aware of the being at risk of furthering misinformation and found deciphering the truth to be one of the greatest challenges of following Twitter throughout the storm.
The Huffington Post included an article today also examining the strengths and weaknesses of social media but their angle was disaster response in regards to relief efforts. Their concern was that a lot of awareness is raised but not necessarily as much action taken, or that the action ends at a re-tweet as opposed to a donation or donated services. Disaster relief struggles in acquiring sustained donations. After a disaster hits there is often a surge in giving to help recovery efforts but after a few weeks or months have passed, the donations for that effort dwindle.
So, let’s prove all of the naysayers wrong with some action! There are quite a few ways to contribute to Sandy relief. We’ve put together a short list of ongoing efforts with different levels of involvement from volunteer work to donating blood to monetary donations.
The American Red Cross
Donate blood, volunteer or donate funds
The Salvation Army
The New York Food Bank
Volunteer or donate funds
DoGoodRightHere has a list of local efforts including clean up & help at local shelters
Beyond this list there are many other ways to get involved and show support. Keep in mind why you want to contribute and that may direct how you decide to contribute and the impact of your efforts. Hopefully we were more prepared this year because of Irene last year and in the coming years we’ll be even more prepared because of what happened with Sandy. Social media such as Twitter and its use through disasters is still young. As we learn how to best navigate both its use as a tool and the users of the tool through disasters we improve our efficacy. So help out with Sandy efforts and Tweet the heck out of it!