One hour after the 8.9 earthquake near the coast of Honshu, Japan, happened on Friday, March 11, 2011, I was online and saw tweets about the earthquake come in rapidly. It was like a very bad nightmare especially when I turned to the English channel of Aljazeera which was a channel of choice for a number of my Twitter followers. I briefly headed to two other news channels, but the Aljazeera one seemed to have the best coverage.

Following the news as well as the tweets about the earthquake, the ensuing tsunami and its risk for other countries in the Pacific, I realized that the old saying of “being glued to the TV” could be re-worded into “being glued to Twitter”. It was the fastest source of information – primary and secondary. The NZ Civil Defense web site could not cope with the massive amount of people accessing their site to find out if NZ was in danger because according to the projected arrival time of the tsunami in NZ we would have 12 hours to prepare for it. They moved to Twitter quite quickly to give at least brief updates. I could also find out about an acquaintance who lives on Oahu in Hawai’i because she was glued to Twitter as well and responded quickly. And as you could not watch all news at once, somebody might have a piece of information that had not yet made it into the news you were watching.

The computer-generated tsunami arrival times map available on the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Information site shows the estimated times till the tsunami waves would hit other parts in the Pacific Ocean. The wave was very closely monitored by scientists and updates were given when available about the height of the wave and its force.

Estimated tsunami travel times after the 8.9 earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011
Estimated tsunami travel times after the 8.9 earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011

The tsunami energy map shows the flow of the released energy of the earthquake. The current estimate is that a total amount of 9,320 gigatons of TNT equivalent, which is 535 million times that of Hiroshima, of energy was released during the earthquake and the tsunami.

Energy map of the 8.9 earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011
Energy map of the 8.9 earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011

Fortunately, the threat to NZ was soon only a marine threat and minor land threat for the upper north island and life in Wellington continued without interruption. It was surreal to have a splendid summer day, and actually splendid summer weekend, when there was such destruction both in Japan and also still in Christchurch. Rebuilding Christchurch will take at least a decade according to estimates and I can’t imagine how much time it will take in Japan where there was much more damage.

My thoughts are with the people in Christchurch and Japan in this horrible time wishing that they have enough energy to survive this tragedy not only re-building their cities, but also re-gaining good emotions.

CC BY-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 thoughts on “Glued to Twitter

  1. As an occasional user of Twitter, I am alternatively bored by it and fascinated by it. Like you I find the speed of posts during world events (recently too many bad ones, but hopefully for good ones too) amazing. I also often just use for a snapshot of just about anything. I enjoy your posts Kristina, they are always quirky and varied. As an Australian I am meant to love cricket, but it has always been more of a social outing for me, with watching optional and occasionally exciting. Bit like Twitter really.
    Regards, Ian Knox

    1. Hello Ian,

      Thank you for your comment. I still don’t find it easy to have longer conversations on Twitter and often continue using email or f2f, but Twitter is great for short updates or quick questions. The hashtags make it easy to follow one topic in particular and see just updates around that topic. A great way of getting a condensed view of what’s going on.


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