It was just after 11 on a Sunday night when I randomly picked up my cell phone. I tapped my Twitter app and was surprised by the rapid-fire activity going on.
One tweet read: “GO NOW! Turn on your TV. Announcement coming.”
Another: He is dead.
Of course, the tweets were about bin Laden and I raced up to my TV and tuned into NBC news. I caught Obama just as he strolled over to his podium.
Much has been written about how this was the most tweeted event in our history (as short a Tweet History as it is). Much amazed me about my own participation in the media moment. Not only did I turn on the TV, but I also put my computer (to Facebook) and all my hands for sure, were on my Tweet Deck.
Of course, I needed mainstream media. But in a comment on Nicole Moore’s article below, cultural critic Greg Tate reminds us that just because it is on CNN does not mean it is (in any way) confirmed.
But mostly I relied on the tweets coming from the scene and coming from the reporters that I follow: they were giving me the most up to date, on the ground information I could find. Also, it gave me something I could just not find in mainstream media that night: a sense of shared lanugage, discussion and community. This was a major event and Twitter helped us all feel closer to it. As media educator Jeff Jarvis tweeted, “Twitter is our Times Square.”
As the post by Jarvis shows us, tweets can be poetic sometimes. Still 140 characters later, tweets can lack a certain beauty of language.
I’ve shared two beautiful posts by journalists Nicole Moore (thehotness.com) and Ernesto Seman (“Bin Laden, la fiesta de todos“). It is in Spanish; but if you can read it or translate it, do – it is some of the more reflective and beautiful writing I have seen regarding the frenzy and ‘celebration’ of this event.
Of the partiers, Seman writes: “…thousands celebrated at the White House…They are young, just over 20 years. They reached adulthood with the image of planes crashing into the Twin Towers, knowing that their country is at war, but not really knowing what it means. Hundreds more gathered outside the site where the towers were…What they show is euphoria. With some exception of Obama himself, what this shows is the country at its worst; the picture is sobering, a lack of modesty, a minimum of bewilderment at what just happened. Check out this paragraph from the post by Nicole Moore from thehotness.com:
“After listening to countless reports on CNN last night and reading endless tweets about how “Obama killed Osama” I feel very conflicted. I’m not sad that bin Laden is dead, but I’m not celebrating either. My spirit is so very far from celebrating. Jubilant shouts of “USA, USA, USA” will surely morph right back into tea-partiers calling President Obama a “n*gger monkey” by week’s end. Now that the US Special Forces have dropped Osama’s bullet-ridden body into the North Arabian Sea, I keep asking myself what does all of this really mean?”