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 cnn.com 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.
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 …