A lot of people complain about Twitter. I hear people say things like “I don’t get Twitter,” and “How can you communicate anything in 140 characters” and “Everyone on Twitter thinks they’re a comedian.” Until about 2009, I was one of those people, too. Now, Twitter is my safe haven. Whenever I have material I want to share for my nonexistent stand-up routine, I turn to Twitter. Whenever I have a question about a new restaurant or event going on around Charleston, I turn to Twitter. And when breaking news happens and I need more information, I turn to Twitter. And that’s exactly what I did the night that Twitter (basically) saved my life.
When I say that Twitter (basically) saved my life, I mean that both literally and figuratively (although, since they changed the definition, I guess I could say “literally and literally.” But, I digress). A little backstory: Last Friday morning around 12:30 as I was crawling into bed, I was startled by an emergency alert on my phone. “Tornado Warning Issued in your Area.” Shit. I got out of bed and paced around my room a little bit, debating whether or not I should wake up my roommate. “Tornado warning? Is that the bad one? Or is Tornado watch the bad one? WHY DO THEY BOTH START WITH ‘W’?” Panicking, I opened my Twitter app and searched the Charleston weather hashtag (that’s #CHSwx, fyi) and saw that a tornado had been spotted on Johns Island (aka that place where I live). I woke up my roommate and together we huddled in the dark on the floor of the downstairs half bathroom, the only light we had shining from the screens of our phones.
I was listening to the wind whipping around outside and constantly refreshing my Twitter stream to follow along with the storm’s progress. I was also tweeting out my fears to the Twitterverse and the Twitterverse was responding.
I was making friends with other people in Charleston who were also freaking out, which was reassuring to me to know that I wasn’t alone.
Eventually, the power came back on and the storm passed without causing any damage to my person or my property. Without Twitter, I wouldn’t have had any details about the tornado other than what I could hear outside my house. To me, it just sounded like another bad Charleston thunderstorm. Twitter gave me the info I needed to seek shelter in my home and also helped keep me calm and sane during one of the scarier nights of my life. So while a lot of people say that they “don’t get” Twitter, I know that social media is real, and it’s making a difference in people’s lives, mine included!