Following the horrendous earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan yesterday, both wireless communication and land lines were damaged, leaving survivors little hope for contacting concerned loved ones. Most outside callers were met with continuous beeping when trying to contact those amidst the destruction, causing a surge of social media interaction. Many were leaving posts on Facebook and Twitter as a way to check in with those who may have been affected by the disaster.
Samantha Belt-Cormier, a West Virginia native who had moved to Japan with her husband several months before the disaster, received numerous wall posts of concern on her Facebook account shortly after the news broke about the quake. “Sam, i need to know your ok!”, “Sammy are you ok?”, and “Hey sam I hope u and ur husband are safe over there in japan! stay safe.” were just a few of the concerned messages Belt-Cormier received. Luckily, Belt-Cormier’s location in Sakaide-shi, Kagawa prevented her from being affected by the waters.
Others who were directly affected by the disaster also turned to social media to help with communications to loved ones. According to an MSNBC Techblog article, Peter Payne, the American-born proprietor of the J-list.com Japanese novelty export site said the quake and tsunami was a moment of glory for social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
“The same can’t be said of the traditional telephone and cell networks, which were completely useless in the aftermath of the quake, as everyone tried to contact loved ones but no one got through,” Payne said. “The first thing I’m doing tonight is making Twitter accounts for my kids and wife so we can contact each other in an event like this.”
Even though Belt-Cormier was able to use her cell phone to contact loved ones, her Facebook wall was proof enough that social media connections are irreplaceable during times of disaster.
If you are interested in helping out with the relief efforts, visit Japan’s Earthquake: How to Help.