Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

Summary: The East Coast experienced one of its largest earthquakes in recent memory, and the Internet erupts.

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If you're anywhere between Virginia and Massachusetts right now (and possibly beyond), you're probably freaked out thinking that it's the end of the world. If that is the case, don't worry -- you only experienced what is probably your first earthquake.

A rating of 5.9 on the Richter scale is not really a joke, but the way that the Internet has exploded since this 10-15 second event has turned it into one -- at least from the perspective of those who grew up in areas where earthquakes are more common. (Fact: Don't forget that earthquakes can actually happen anywhere on the planet!)

Being in San Francisco, a city along the Ring of Fire in which one usually can't tell an average earthquake from a truck going by, I didn't know about the East Coast earthquake that stemmed from near Washington, D.C. until my Facebook feed literally exploded.  Most of the status updates iterated a lot of the same anxious emotions and wondering what the heck just happened to them.

Even Manhattan-based Gawker had a post up within minutes detailing what it could in a short span of time about the situation, noting that the earthquake didn't knock anything down in the home of their D.C. correspondent. (It's also one of the few sites that noted that Colorado experienced an earthquake just minutes before, which happens to be the largest in that state in 40 years!)

Memes and Twitter hashtags spread like wildfire (which sometimes does follow an earthquake). Just look at this one tweet:

RT @[redacted]: The collective eye-rolling of everyone in California is probably moving the earth more than the east coast #earthquake

Even my colleague, Andrew Nusca, reported from Philadelphia that he created a "Earthquakepocalypse" location on FourSquare, and 75 people have checked in within 15 minutes. Make that 1,300 people within 30 minutes.

Writing as someone who has lived through a major earthquake, some of the reaction does come across as a bit amusing.

Of course, earthquakes are still very serious natural events that can cause a lot of destruction. So some of this might seem a bit callous when thinking about past disasters in recent history. There's even the potential for damage still along the East Coast as most buildings there are not built to withstand earthquakes. (Don't forget about aftershocks!)

Nevertheless, whether people are spreading real news or just humorous tidbits about it using social media, it shows that Facebook, Twitter and the whole lot of them really are the source of immediate news and could prove to be useful in the case of devastating disasters in the future...so long as there is still wireless service available.

Developing...

[Image via jmckinley]

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52 comments
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  • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

    For a 5.9 quake that caused no damage or injuries, it seems like it's an overraction to evacuate the White House, NYMEX, the Pentagon, et cetera. What do you think?

    POLL: Are building evacuations due to the 5.9 US East Coast earthquake an overreaction?
    Vote: http://www.wepolls.com/p/2001111
    zadocpaet
    • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

      @zadocpaet We design our buildings to withstand fire and hurricanes, not earthquakes. So so evacuating a few buildings to prevent the loss of life, in an unknown situation, seems prudent to me.
      jhuddle
    • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

      @zadocpaet its an indication that 2012 is coming..lol
      animageofmine1
      • RE: 2012 is coming

        @animageofmine1

        So is 2013 :)
        Norm76
    • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

      @zadocpaet
      Well, there *WAS* destruction:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AnNlyDcySY

      And if that's not bad enough, we have a cat-3 hurricane barreling down upon us...yeah, what's next? Tornadoes? Plague? Rivers flowing with blood?
      tech_ed9
      • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

        @tech_ed@... Dogs and cats living together!...MASS HYSTERIA!!!
        I12BPhil
    • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

      @zadocpaet Yup, my feelings exactly. As a former Californian I had to laugh at some of their antics. I've been through 7.1 and 8.2 quakes. THOSE ARE EARTHQUAKES, not just the tremors they felt. I'm still chuckling to myself because the jerks in the media are making THIS the ONLY news they're talking about.
      bevkurtin
      • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

        @bevkurtin
        Many buildings in the East were not designed to withstand earthquakes. So it could be a big deal. The National Cathedral suffered some damage. It could be quite extensive. Some of the Smithsonian Institution buildings have also revealed earthquake damage. It's still too early to say what the extent of the damage will be.

        I don't know why you feel the need to boast about having been through an earthquake. Or laugh about others reactions. Someone somewhere has always been in a worse experience than any bad news reported that day. What's the point?
        123techie123
      • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

        @bevkurtin

        You don't understand, Bev. Here on the east coast, we have REALLY HARD ROCK. So . . . , our really rare quakes travel much faster and farther, then on the west coast. Also, no one builds here with any kind of seismic code.

        Think of it as if LA got 2"-3" of snow. Everyone would freak out!
        tombutler
    • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

      @zadocpaet

      Bear in mind that some of these buildings are of stone construction. Unless the White House and the Capitol have been completely rebuilt, much of their structure is made of stones piled on one another.

      On the east coast, we don't really think about earthquake proofing our buildings.
      msalzberg
    • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

      @zadocpaet There's lot of eye-rolling from the West Coasties about what we East Coasties don't understand, but here's something you don't understand: when we in the New York/New Jersey/DC area feel things start shaking, we think of one thing first, and it's not earthquakes: terrorist attack. Besides the point about our buildings not designed for earthquakes, as soon as it hit and before people knew what was going on, many places were evacuated just to be on the safe side.
      jgm2
    • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

      @zadocpaet - An orderly evacuation if there is reason to be concerned about a building's structural integrity is obviously sensible, but it was an overreaction in most if not all cases this time.<br><br>As for those who fled from buildings on their own initiative - rushing out into the streets in a panic is totally the wrong thing to do, and I can't believe that no one in the media is pointing this out. You could be struck by falling masonry, or electrocuted by a downed power line.
      Greenknight_z
    • Actually, this quake did cause structural damage to buildings

      @zadocpaet It cracked concrete walls, floors, chimneys, and even knocked off 20 to 30 feet of steeple on the national cathedral. I don't know where you got the idea that it caused no damage.
      Dr_Zinj
    • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

      @zadocpaet After shocks can actually be larger than the initial quake, so evacuation of older historical structures is prudent. Don't forget that many buildings on the East Coast are a couple hundred years old.

      I think a lot of the fear is due to the fact that people who don't live on the West Coast believe they are avoiding earthquakes by living elsewhere. The reality is, quakes can happen anywhere. I think we'll see more and more quakes occurring in odd places due to large-scale shifts in the loads placed upon the Earth's crust, due to ice melt-off, rising oceans, ocean current changes, droughts, floods, and other events which are rising in frequency. Remember, our crust floats on a sea of magma, like a boat. If you shift the weight around constantly, the boat becomes unstable.
      BillDem
  • Here's hoping nobody was hurt.

    nt
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
  • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

    My first earthquake! The building was shaking, thought maybe someone was rolling some heavy equipment since this building shakes whenever someone walks by. Glad its just minimal damage if any throughout the east coast. Wonder what you California people are thinking about the east coasters.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

      @LoverockDavidson_ We're LAUGHING at y'all. I used to live in LA and after riding through some REAL earthquakes (7.9 and 8.2) the silly tremors you felt are NOTHING. Ever been through a TORNADO? I'm in Texas now and have an underground tornado shelter.
      bevkurtin
      • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

        @bevkurtin
        I figured as much, but you gotta remember earthquakes just don't happen around here. Tornadoes do though.
        LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
      • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

        @bevkurtin Earthquakes are NO laughing matter for anything! The bottom of my feet can tell you that after walking barefoot in the dark through shattered glass all over my carpet after the 1994 Northridge quake!
        I12BPhil
  • RE: Earthquake hits Eastern Seaboard; tweets spread faster than tremors

    As a fellow survivor of Loma Prieta... I want to say to folks on the east coast, "ya'll don't know what an earthquake is. "
    klockheed