MASON CITY, IA — Communication is vital in a crisis and when phone lines were jammed after Monday’s Boston Marathon Attack, many people turned to social media to contact loved ones and show support.
The horrific attacks that led to at least three dead and others injured in Boston left many searching for loved ones who may have been affected.
When phone lines went down, social media picked up as people took to the web to share their status.
“The message can grow exponentially to a bigger crowd in a short period. So I think that’s one of the big things with social media. With the popularity of just sharing information,” said Gary Schotanus, Sales Manager with OmniTel Communications.
On Monday, Gary was surprised by the news when his wife sent him a text detailing the events that took place in Boston just moments earlier. What’s worse is that Gary had co-workers of his attending that very race to cheer on their families.
“Yesterday, in a matter of minutes, I had texted and gotten an answer back from my coworkers who were at the event in Boston. They were okay and everyone in their party was okay. If I had just been trying to use voice cell or other things, that might have taken a lot longer,” said Gary.
For some locals, they say in the case of an emergency, family members would probably reach out to Facebook if phone service was not working.
“I see people post random things all day on Facebook, it wouldn’t surprise me to see people trying to keep up with family. My family is on Facebook so they actually would get a hold of my friends here in town,” said Chris White, resident of Mason City.
While we often think of these sites as ones for recreational use, many believe Monday’s attack is proof that social media can be used for much more.
“With social media it’s grown over the years; it’s very accessible for people either from their laptop or an iPad, or an iPod, or their smart phone, some type of desire like that. Most people it’s always with them so they can always access it,” said Gary.