Twitter is pretty grim tonight. Breaking news about the evacuation of Times Square due to what appears to be a car bomb, floods in Tennessee with the potential for more inclement weather and a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with potential to be the worst environmental disaster in US history. 

As I watched these events unfold through breaking news stories and updates from friends and strangers (some who were in harms way and others tracking news feeds) I wondered about our response to such things. 
As cyber-friends Tweeted about water approaching their homes in Tennessee, for instance, I contemplated words of encouragement but somehow felt that the gesture bordered on the voyeuristic. I thought of folks on the Gulf Coast that I met at a conference a year ago and catch up with from time to time on Facebook and felt the same way. Then I checked the #TimesSquare hashtag with tweet after retweet of breaking news stories (mine included) and thought. “what is really happening here?” 
I wondered…

What was the appropriate response to the fear, suffering or loss of “friends” I have only met online? 

What about strangers? 

Is tweeting and retweeting these stories helpful to anyone, or is is just something we do to commiserate in the face of fear and sadness? 

Is watching videos of swelled rivers and evacuated cities becoming part of our coping mechanism?

Would love to hear your thoughts…
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