Undoubtedly, social media has grown immensely over the last 10 years. Some people use it to stay in touch with friends, some use it to keep abreast of current affairs, others use it for business, say what you will, you meet very few people these days that don’t use ANY form of social media.
In aftermath of the hugely devastating event at the MEN Arena bombing in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert on Monday 22nd of May, social media became the platform for much outpouring.
One thing that always strikes me in events such as this including the London Westminster attack less than two months ago, the British people leap into action when they are needed. Within hours of the attack, people from across Manchester were offering up warm beds, phone chargers and in true British style, plenty of cups of tea.
Stories quickly appeared of taxi drivers across the city coming to the aide of those fleeing the concert who may need free lifts to get home. Off-duty medical personnel made themselves available and went to the nearest hospitals to offer their help.
Mancunians and people from right across the Greater Manchester area flocking to blood donation centres across the city, so much so that they were turning people away. The blood donation service quickly took to social media to thank the public for their continued donations, that they had been inundated and that they couldn’t currently process new donators but desperately needed people with O- blood type.
I’m sure many people will be aware of the two homeless men that were begging in the foyer of the arena as the concert emptied out, they rushed to help those in need – social media exploded with sentiments of gratitude for these selfless individuals by starting up a JustGiving page to try to raise just £300 for their efforts, (at the time this blog piece was written) the total currently stands at £44k – the power of social media.
The Manchester Evening News set up a fund on JustGiving to raise support for the families of those killed and injured, to date, they have raised over £1.6million with the total continuing to rise as the link is shared countless times across social media platforms and news channels.
Amidst the chaos, there were stories of good news with people recognising images of those feared hurt in the incident and alerting them that their loved ones were safe.
Messages of condolence poured in from all corners of the globe offering support, prayer and in some cases, monetary donations.
The vigil held in Albert Square in Manchester went viral on Facebook Live and Instagram Stories, this was pushed to increasing exposure when a lone member of the public broke into a spontaneous rendition of Don’t Look Back In Anger by Oasis which saw hundreds join in, this has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times across varying platforms enhancing the resilience of the Mancunian people.
Sadly, due to the nature of this horrific tragedy, there were so many heart-wrenching stories and posts making their way across all platforms.
People looking for their loved ones, posting photos, trying desperately to track down children, parents and friends and hours later those same images being used to remember a victim.
Victims soon became named and emotional tributes poured in. The World was suddenly immersed in the lives of the victims who were, until a few hours previous were only known by their nearest and dearest.
Police utilised social media as an opportunity to keep the public up to date with continuing developments across the city and to keep panic levels down by providing as much information as possible.
Unfortunately, social media’s ‘freedom of speech’ platform allows for some rather unsavoury postings and this horrendous event was no exception. Users were sharing images of those claimed to be missing when they were safe and well, some of them, not even attending the concert – this, the media states, was a bid for social media attention.
Posts being shared countless times of quotes that there were 50-60 parentless children at the Holiday Inn being cared for. The hotel group quickly took to social media to state that this wasn’t true and for those that were worried about loved ones should call the hotline available.
News that Ariana Grande had been injured in the bombing was soon quashed as it was highlighted that the images which were flooding social media had been taken from a entertainment news website of the singer filming a role in a film.
Shortly after the incident – police were alerted, via social media, that there was a gunmen outside a hospital in the city, this was found out to be false.
Due to the nature of social media, you will always get the good, the bad and the ugly but it would seem that from this atrocity, although the bad and the ugly elements of the social media platforms were present, the good shone through, it sent a message far and wide that we stand together, that we will not be beaten and we are not afraid.