The Facebook Effect

In the movie “The Social Network” Marc Zuckerberg is portrayed pretty much as a jerk.  Heck, not even “pretty much” – he’s portrayed as an emotion-free idiot! I’m sure it’s exaggerated for the sake of film, but it doesn’t really matter much.  I’ve been thinking these last days, though, that Facebook has made this earthquake experience easier.

Immediately after the earthquake on March 11th, the cellular and land-line phones were not working.  However, for reasons that are not clear to me, the internet was working.  With the 3-G networks and the internet up, it was easy to email our safety to friends and family around the globe.  But beyond email, the easiest thing to do was update my status on Facebook as to our safety.  My friends and family were also able to respond to me and send messages of love and support.

In the days following the earthquake, we looked at many different news outlets.  On Facebook, we could see which of our friends were seeing which news items because they posted the articles they found most useful.  We could pick and choose what was the most reliable from our point of view.

And now, from a viewpoint slightly over a week after the quake, I’m still looking at the news items my friends are posting and I am still updating my status as to where I am and when I’m planning to return to Tokyo.

I can’t imagine something like this happening twenty years ago without the technology available to us today.  It would have taken weeks to find loved ones and more weeks to find proper news.

Facebook has made our lives easier.  We keep in touch with big groups of people at a time, find news, and read about our friends’ happenings.  So Marc Zuckerberg, we thank you.  Your tool has been invaluable to those of us who were most affected by the quake and its aftermath.