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Earthquake 2011! Where were you?

Where were YOU doing during the earthquake of 2011, and what did you do to contact your friends?! Is the TV landscape changing where social media provides both the community and the information, while TV just rounds up web posts?

Where were you during the National Earthquake of August 2011? In May, both Michael and I blogged about contemporary vs. established media in Tweeting History and the Power of Television, surrounding breaking historical events. However, after August 23rd’s earthquake (and subsequent aftershocks), I find myself re-discussing the issue. What do you do when an uninsurable “act of God” occurs, you need information, and traditional media isn’t there to inform you?

I found myself in that position on Tuesday, as I watched my office floor ripple and sway, while I started to experience flashbacks. When I popped to to see what happened, the breaking news headline only reflected “Rebels ‘show the world’.” I tried searching Google News for “earthquake,” but only found an article about a Colorado earthquake. After realizing hanging out in my office wasn’t too smart, I headed down to the street level where EVERYONE in all of the surrounding office buildings milled about. It was a little surreal and a little freaky considering the number of days until 9/11.

When I returned to my office, I tried re-searching Google for “earthquake” but just found one line article statements about earthquakes rippling through sections of the United States which hit 5.3-5.8 on the Richter scale. Although Wikipedia informed me that 5.0-5.9 earthquakes are moderate (enough to shake strong buildings or damage poorly built ones), the only tangible information I heard included local security announcements about experiencing aftershocks.

So, what do you do when something happens and you can’t rely on news sources to inform you, especially considering the past decade? It seems like right now, we fall to e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. I was partially disappointed when my local news covered social media’s coverage, but didn’t add to it. Considering TV still has quick response time, I expected them to interview scientists to discuss the catalyst, rather than just rounding up on-line and in-person opinion. If the local news acts more like a social media round-up and social media responds more quickly, what does that mean about the inversion of canonical vs. non-canonical roles? Do we even need TV news if it just recaps as opposed to informing? I would’ve loved to hear from an academic specializing in seismic activity discussing why a 5.9 earthquake hit Virginia. Then again, if local news doesn’t do it, nothing stops me from contacting  geological focused institutes.

Anyways, what did you do when your floor started rocking? Were you on the crapper, watching your pet freak out, having a mini-freak out, twittering, or something else? Below find what we at CliqueClack encountered. On a side note, Mr. Noble called anyone who didn’t pull out his/her inner Chuck Norris an “amateur.”

Chuck: In Baltimore, I heard the noise, then the floor started bouncing in my computer room at home on the second floor. The sound got loud, I ran downstairs and saw my living room walls swaying back and forth (and I live in a rowhouse!), things bouncing on shelves and falling over, and then went outside with all the rest of the neighbors who were mildly freaked out.

Kona: It shook pretty substantially in my office. We evacuated outside for a few minutes and then I ate a cookie. #neverforget

Julia: Felt nothing here (and I’m hyper-sensitive to this sort of thing, so I know there was really nothing), but both my friends in PA and upstate NY just tweeted something along the lines of WHOA. Tectonic geography is weird.

Ivey: Ha … I’d literally just sat down from lunch (where I too had a cookie), and boom. I thought someone had spiked my cookie.

Katie: Earthquake-what-now?

Kona: Yeah, someone in DC posted something on Twitter that was very appropriate: the scary part about the earthquake wasn’t the earthquake; it was the 30 seconds when we all thought it was a bomb.

Isabelle: I didn’t feel it in Quebec City but according to reports, some people did feel it in the province of Quebec (mostly in the southern and western part of the province).

Rachel: I didn’t feel anything, but I was listening to the radio and the DJ said some people were calling in saying they had felt it in our area.

Chuck: I’ve never felt one like this. We’ve had small tremors in the past, but never this violent or loud with that much movement. I’m still shaking! It’s cool when it’s all CGI in a movie … not so cool when it’s real!

Julia: My gerbils didn’t even wake up and they wake up if I sneeze loudly, so I know I’m not being crazy.

Jeremy: So that WAS an earthquake. When it started, I instantly checked on my glass bottles to make sure I wasn’t underneath any. Luckily, we all seem to have survived just fine.

Isabelle: After talking about the earthquake with the people working around me, it turns out that we did feel it in Quebec City! When it happened we all assumed it was either an F-18 flying really low, thus making the building shake a bit (there is a military bands festival in town and it started yesterday, so having an F-18 fly by for the festival this pm made sense … plus we had F-18s fly by at least 5 times this summer to accompany planes with soldiers coming back from Afghanistan) or that it was a big ship that was too close to the docks (my building is located in the port, so ships, cruise ships, etc., dock about 50 meters from the building).


Ivey: I’m not saying that I emailed this out 4 hours ago or anything … (oh yeah, I am) Amateur …

Kona: heh.



Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

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9 Responses to “Earthquake 2011! Where were you?”

August 25, 2011 at 9:36 AM

. . . . .

From the iconic 70’s disaster film poster right on down to Ivey’s need for perpetual one-upsmanship, the entire post is terrifical, An.


August 25, 2011 at 11:20 AM

You calling me an amateur for four hours, and then tossing up a picture that I’d shared with the group already?


August 25, 2011 at 11:26 AM

. . . . .

“… shared with the group already” … ??? I didn’t get it. Just call me chopped liver.

Hey … shouldn’t you be fleeing inland … ???

August 25, 2011 at 10:26 AM

I live near Albany, NY. I was sitting at my desk and I felt like I was on a boat..could really feel it. That was the first earthquake I ever felt, always missed out on the other small ones in the past. My office mate said to go online and check the news sites but they had nothing. I then went on FaceBook, where I immediately got confirmation because my friends that are scattered around the East were all posting that they felt it. I really wasn’t surprised that it was the social media that was the fastest.

August 25, 2011 at 10:36 AM

I blame it on those damn, dirty apes!

August 25, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Social media will be faster with stuff like this because individuals don’t need to wait for confirmation or official statements to spread the word. News outlets on the other hand have to play CYA and be all “responsible.”

And…welcome to my life. Earthquakes are terrifying, especially when they wake you up in the middle of the night. Running outside isn’t always the safest option, by the way–depends on where you are and what might fall on you!

August 25, 2011 at 11:58 AM

For this “Disaster” it was the power of texting that let me know what had happened. I was driving down a badly paved road so at the time so I didn’t notice. And of course driving and texting is such a great and safe thing to do.

August 25, 2011 at 3:29 PM

My nomination for best Earthquake 2011 is on – Aug. 24, I think. It has the lawn chairs in Michael’s link, but with the words “We Will Rebuild” written across it. It also has a good Top Ten. [Warning: Political. But then, what isn’t?]

August 25, 2011 at 10:19 PM

I felt the earthquake in my office in Southfield, Michigan. Our whole building was swaying and people ran outside. I immediately searched for earthquake on news sites but found the same things you did. I finally just searched twitter for Michigan earthquake and found tons of people wondering why Michigan had an earthquake and finally figured out it was in Virginia.