When we don’t know what to do, we can always just hold on to each other. (Katherine Swierk, left, was reunited with her aunt Terry Days, center, and friend Jocelyn Cacio outside Copley Square in Boston after explosions during the Boston Marathon. Photo credit: John Blanding/Globe Staff)
April’s theme, Making the World A Better Place to Be and to Blog, seemed appropriate for the most inappropriate of events that occurred at the renowned Boston marathon yesterday. Whether you’ve run the race before, know someone who has, or have other connections to this beautiful city, you’ve no doubt been overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, confusion, disbelief, or even fear.
And just like we would do in any community, whether it be in our cul-de-sac, our morning coffee group, or workout class, we come together as an online community to discuss the world around us. We try to make sense of it all, to find a ray of hope and understand the facts. So how can we, as bloggers especially, use the power of communication and community to make the world a better place to be and blog in the wake of tragedy? I have a few ideas, and I’m sure you do, too.
If you feel like talking, talk.
If you have a rant, a question, a concern, or simply want to share an especially touching video, do so. Make a connection with those around you, both online and offline. I think we often feel reluctant to share our emotions because if we weren’t directly affected by it, our feelings aren’t relevant. But tragedies affect us all in unique ways. Processing these emotions is an important part of healing and finding a way to move forward.
If you don’t feel like talking, don’t.
As bloggers, we often feel like we have to make a statement. There has to be a post. We have to put our spin on it, our two cents in. Well, unless you’re blogging for a paycheck, nobody is keeping score. Don’t feel pressured to say anything at all. Simply read the stories of others, and comment if you’re moved to do so.
Be a good steward of the facts.
If you’re blogging regularly, you’ve probably built a social media following, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, or other channel. Your online platform perhaps gives you more leverage or more credibility than the average user, and you must use this influence wisely. Fact check memes or posts before sharing them. (Or you may end up spreading horrendous falsehoods like this one.) Stay abreast of the most current updates, and beware of rumors and sensationalized stories.
Rethink that happy-go-lucky post or photo, especially the automated ones.
Personally, I don’t believe in scheduled social media updates. (They should be used very rarely.) After all, if you wouldn’t send a robot to an in-person networking event, don’t send one online. Yes, life goes on for those not directly affected by a national tragedy, but show some sensitivity. Maybe you know all of your family is safe and accounted for, but perhaps your readers or followers don’t. Give it some time.
Take your good intentions and do something real.
Yes, sharing an especially moving article or photo can help spread awareness and perhaps bring some peace to a shell-shocked community. But if you really want to make an impact, do something real. Donate blood. Donate money. If you pray, pray. Call a friend or family member who may be having an especially hard time. And don’t forget to continue reaching out to those in your everyday life. Use this as a time to re-evaluate what’s really important, heal broken relationships, and spread some love in your little corner of the world.
Sadly, this won’t be the last time our nation, our world, mourns the loss of innocent life taken in callous, violent manner. It will happen again. As long as the world keeps spinning and the twisted minds of a sliver of our population continue to manifest madness, it will happen again. So for now, let’s focus on healing the bodies, the hearts, the souls of that great city and our nation, and let’s do what we can as bloggers to make the world a better place.