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Social Media – Changing the Face of Historical Moments


Last night, like many of you, I sat in front of my television and watched as President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was dead. I don’t like the thought of celebrating a death, no matter what, but last night I think we were all happy to see the end of such a destructive symbol of evil in the world. It was one of those historic moments that I’ll never forget, just as many people will never forget where they were or what they were doing when the towers fell. Last night was closure.

I recently moved to the Washington, DC area, so you can imagine what it was like outside my window last night. I opted to stay in, but the celebration was no less rowdy inside – not because I had a party or something, but because Twitter and Facebook were buzzing. Social media has changed the face of historic moments – and I love that.

I love it because we can all celebrate peace together, no matter where we live. My best friend, who is a vet that served in Iraq, lives in Austin, but we were able to talk on Twitter along with our other friends who live all around the country. It was interesting to see the reactions from non-US tweeters, as this wasn’t just a US victory, but rather a world victory. I loved that people shared links, not just to breaking news on the topic, but to their reactions. Not everyone agreed on everything – and that is fine (in fact, I like seeing varying opinions).

Think about where you were when the towers fell, or where you were when you found out that Princess Diana died or even (if you are old enough) where you were when Kennedy got shot or man landed on the moon. How did you find out? Who did you talk with? How did you express your opinions? I’m sure you didn’t tweet or write a blog post or update your Facebook status. But did you do one (or all) of those things last night? I did.

I forget who posted it (I actually saw it as a retweet a few times by different people and apologize that I don’t know the original author), but someone said (and I’m paraphrasing here obviously) that when our kids ask where we were when we found out that bin Laden was dead, won’t it be a shame to say that rather than celebrating with our loved ones or partying in the streets, we were at home in front of a computer tweeting.

I don’t think that’s a shame. Maybe I love social media more than most, but I’m excited that I can share important historical moments with everyone online. You are my loved ones. You are my party on the street. I’m not ashamed at all that I opted to celebrate a historical moment on Twitter rather than in the streets – and I live in DC, where the party was epic and is probably still going on in my places.

I guess, to me it is exciting to see social media changing how the world works. I think we all have the choice to see it as a bad thing or to embrace it, educate ourselves about it, and enjoy the ride! Change is just a fact of life, and in this respect, I think it’s a really awesome thing to see.


  • Kristi Hines

    I remember on 9/11, I wanted to know more but was tired of the same scenes repeating themselves over and over on news stations, so even then I went to blogs from people in NY to hear the story from those who were there, experiencing the fear, loss, emotions.

    Fast forward to last night, and the I learned about the news from my Twitter feed. So I feel like it was full circle. Much more interesting to see individual perspectives from all over the world reacting – some with celebration, some sad that people would celebrate any death at all.

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