Sunday, March 11, 2012

• One Year Later . . .

@MerleChloe - @EmmySits
On March 11, 2011, an earthquake off the coast of Japan sparked a massive tsunami. That day I signed up for Twitter.

My eyes were glued in horror to my television. Wanting to know more, I checked my friend Brenda's Twitter feed, then that of her friend Merle, who lives on the island of Hawaii. Merle posted every five minutes on conditions in Japan, as well as a situation in which she had a vested interest: the impending impact on Hawaii.

@BrendaMantz @DarcyMantz
Between the images on my TV screen and the rat-a-tat-tat tweets from Merle, I was mesmerized. I'd heard about Twitter for years but it sounded superfluous, a bunch of dithering people sending choppy half-thoughts to strangers. But suddenly I saw the meaning and power of connection. I wanted to understand what was happening in Japan. Tweets helped. How big was the wave? How many towns were affected? Did people have warning? I wanted hope.

So I entered Twitter as EmmySits, a reference to my pet sitting business. I had little to offer. Twitter was confusing: symbols, weird names, and gobbledygook in blue letters. But I learned a lot. Tsunami videos appeared on Twitter before they aired on the news. Through Merle I followed the earthquake's force as it snaked across the Pacific. The news told me it was raining in Hawaii. Twitter told me the streets in Hilo that were flooded; people posted cell phone photos of flattened foliage and iron-gray skies and I felt as though I were standing next to them.

I followed Brenda, her dogs (@ArloMantz and @DarcyMantz), and Merle; they followed me. I found @BlogPaws, of community of people who write about animals, and went to one of their conferences. You know what people say about a conference: "I met so many great people, blah blah blah." But really, I met great people, some of whom have become friends. Through Twitter, I joke with a policewoman-author in Arizona. More often than is polite, I solicit advice from a veterinarian in Rhode Island.

Remembrances of the tsunami are being held today. The mood is somber. The loss is staggering, too much to comprehend. In this context, it feels sacrilegious to talk about the disaster and Twitter side by side. But those are the facts. God bless.


  1. Congratulations twitter friend! May there be many more years of fun tweets to come :-)

  2. I am touched to be mentioned in your blog, Emmy! I am so glad that you signed up for twitter so that we can remain in touch. You always have a way of making me laugh and smile! Much love and aloha!

  3. Hi Emmy.

    I also am touched that you mentioned me in your blog. I'm so happy we've gotten to know each other through Twitter and got to meet at BlogPaws. What you said about soliciting advice more often than is polite is absolutely not true; you're welcome anytime! :)

  4. I'm so all over the map that I confess, this is the first I went to your blog via Twitter. I remember that day last year and my Japanese friends wondering about their families with all the continued earthquakes. Twitter is an amazing tool which I continue to learn about and use.

    I can't wait for Pixel and I to be mentioned in your blog. As my life long friend you always have made me laugh especially when I needed it.

  5. Stopping by to welcome you on board the A to Z Challenge April 2012
    We shall have loads of fun exchanging comments and visits!

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

    Pls add our badge to your sidebar so it is easier to spot your participation :)