Social Media Brings Out the Best (and Worst) in Humanity

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With tornadoes whipping through the south and the confirmed death of Osama Bin Laden, social media quickly ignited this week with all sorts of responses and calls to action. These reactions were the kind of thing that we’ve come to expect from the medium.

As the death toll from the tornadoes which devastated the southern United States climbs, there are signs of hope coming from places like Facebook. Patty Bullion from northern Alabama created a Facebook page devoted to housing more than 800 photographs of found items left behind in the disaster’s wake.

“When it [the storm] went over us, it literally just started raining pictures,” Bullion told CNN. “We got parts of Bibles, hymnals. … I just started saying, ‘There are parts of people’s lives falling out of the sky.’”

The page has more than 80,000 likes as users posts old photos, documents and other items in hopes of reuniting victims of the storms with their belongings. As social media marketers, we believe in the power of projects like Patty Bullion’s. We know with all the hoopla and blatant brand brainwashing, the powers of Facebook and Twitter also can be used to help people and to promote worthwhile causes and businesses. Yet just when you start to be a cheerleader for social media, something like the death of Osama Bin Laden happens. Yes, the demise is of a terrorist is something to be noted for sure; but endless threads celebrating a death is a tad ghoulish and smacks of the bully/mob mentality that many hate about social media.

In the end, it’s the sheer power of this growing marketing and news platform that is personified during big world events such as these. We continue to see the way we get information (I, for one, learned about both of these events from Facebook) and the way we talk to our audiences change.

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