Social Media & Connectedness In Times of Crisis

This past week has been fairly brutal. On Monday Australia was on tenterhooks as an unknown amount of people were taken hostage by a lone gunman in what has now been called the #SydneySiege.

Tuesday morning we woke up to the news that two hostages and the hostage taker had been killed as police stormed the building.

While horrific events play out daily on a global scale (just today news reached us that a gut-wrenching 141 were killed in an attack on a Peshawar school), it is often the events closer to home that shock and devistate us the most. This is human nature, when people who have lives similar to own (however we may perceive that) are caught up in events that terrify us, our reactions are often much stronger than when it seems ‘far away’.

When the Sydney Siege news broke Monday morning I was at work. Computers switched to streaming coverage of the events unfolding, tablets and phones were constantly refreshing the big news sites. Loved ones were being contacted via text messaging and group messages were being shared on FaceBook.

#illridewithyou badges

I was on Twitter where the #SydneySiege and #MartinPlace hashtags were trending, and soon there was #illridewithyou which now, brings a tear to my eye as it reminded me of the generosity and goodness in people that we often forget as we are quick to anger in times of turmoil.

In hard times, we seek connectedness.

I’m lucky (ok, its not all luck, my workplaces awesome culture was a big reason I took on my current position,) that I work for an organisation that recognises the power of #SoMe. We have a work FaceBook closed group where the Chief Executive shared incredibly powerful words about how we decide to act going forward and how that will define us. (You can scroll down to Peter Burns’ post on the YMCA Victoria FaceBook page posted 3.37pm 16 December 2014).

We use social media to connect, to learn, to build our community, and in difficult times the connectedness we get from these forums means that we grow, learn and heal with each other.

If you’ve fostered the right culture you don’t need to be worried that your people are misusing these tools; because connected, engaged, productive people will exibit those behaviours online too.

I’m so grateful that I could check in on friends in Sydney on Monday. I’m glad that I got to witness #illridewithyou on Tuesday. And I’m a more connected member of my community because of it.

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