Many, many moons ago, I worked for the now defunct, MCI Worldcom. Around the office, we often said that it stood for Many Changes Instantly because you’d come in at 8:45 a.m. and your Manager was no longer your Manager by 9:15 a.m. The rules changed swiftly and you really had to learn to adjust or be forcibly re-adjusted. That’s essentially what comes to mind for me when I think of what digital communications and social media has done to how we share and receive information. I can vividly recall this day in history, eleven short years ago when I found out the horrific events which were unfolding. I had very few lines of communication and foolishly tried to call. What a difference a decade makes. Having a cell phone was still optional back then but now, some have 2 or 3.
Initially, I thought it was my trembling hands causing the misdials to my best friend. No luck on her land line. I made another few fruitless attempts to my “boyfriend” in Jersey, before I accepted that everybody across the world with ties to the New York metropolitan area must be dialing like crazy. It took all of my technological savvy to come up with the brilliant idea of sending emails — which would remain unchecked indefinitely. To add to my anxiety, the CNN website was frozen with the same image and update each time I refreshed. I was out of ideas and it took about 72 hours before I knew my loved ones were alive.
If anything of that enormity occurred today, we’d likely see video feeds on You Tube before the media even became aware of the situation. We’ve evolved into a culture where no matter how big or small the news is, we can text it, tweet it and blog about it with the push of a button, privacy be damned! I think I saw a kindergartner updating his Facebook status from the monkey bars yesterday. There’s also Instagram, for those who aren’t partial to actual words. This will be most helpful in dispelling those pesky celebrity death rumors, often spread while said celeb is skiing in Aspen.
I’m not sure it’s worth the overall annoyance I have for those who document every moment of their lives… but I would’ve loved to see, “I’m OK” tweeted out by every New Yorker I know within nanoseconds after the planes crashed on September 11, 2001.