|@MerleChloe - @EmmySits|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.