Social media allows people to manipulate the same information in countless ways because it is a compilation of everyone’s unique perspective. From satire to slapstick, every person’s sense of humor is distinct. This discrepancy is especially noticeable in light of serious events, such as Hurricane Sandy that demolished areas along the east coast, especially New York and New Jersey last October. While traditional news media outlets were busy reporting live from the sites of the wreckage and profiling families who lost their houses or loved ones, certain social media outlets were presenting the “news” in a completely different tone.
The Twitter account @SANDYTHECANE (https://twitter.com/SANDYTHEHCANE) surfaced and began tweeting comical commentary about the storm, from where it had already been to what it had done, and even rewriting song lyrics and puns into ridiculously clever statements. While most people found this account hilariously entertaining, those who were closer to the damage and suffered personal effects from the storm may have disagreed.
Spoof pictures of animals flying around in the air from the hurricane winds also circulated the Internet, as well as record uploads to Instagram tagged #Sandy, and Twitter trending topics #Sandy, #Frankenstorm, and #hurricanesandy.
In contrast, social media was (and continues to be) used in constructive ways during and after Hurricane Sandy:
- The start-up social network Recovers.org was founded and is investigating the applications for “crowdsourced disaster-recovery” that allows people to organize to volunteer and donate.
- Text messages and tweets directed volunteers and victims to refuge shelters post-hurricane.
- http://sandysucks.tumblr.com was started to organize relief efforts.
- The Red Cross communicated via Twitter to inform people about how to help.