A “Where were you when …?” event?


I saw someone tweet this yesterday (for those of you not familiar with Twitter, a tweet is a twitter post)”

“Where were you when Michael Jackson died? … Welcome to the 9/11 of pop culture”

Whether I agree that his death has that level of significance or not, it’s an interesting question for me to think about becauseĀ  … where was I when Michael Jackson died? I was in my car on the way to pick up the kids from daycare and heard just a snippit of a radio news report with the words “Michael,” “Jackson” and “died,” although not necessarily in that order (well, I guess “Michael” and “Jackson” were, but anyways).

So what did I do? I’m a breaking news junkie and I needed to know more, but I was in the car and 45 minutes from being home. The radio had gone back to playing music. I had my handy dandy iPhone but which app should I use? The AP Mobile News app wouldn’t have breaking news like that. Hmm. I could google and maybe find something. But there had to be a better way!

Twitter. I turned to Twitter for the latest updates, and I wasn’t alone, according to this story in the Wall Street Journal:

“We saw an instant doubling of tweets per second the moment the story broke,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told the New York Times. He added that the volume of Jackson-related messages hit 5,000 per minute at its peak.

“This particular news about the passing of such a global icon is the biggest jump in tweets per second since the U.S. presidential election,” Stone told the paper.

The WSJ article goes on to say that Internet traffic on news sites doubled as the news was breaking at around 5:30 p.m. EDT, which was the exact time that I was leaving work and driving to get the kids. So, yeah, within 10 minutes of that I was up-to-speed on the news and following the Twitter updates. I even posted the following tweets

MJ tweets

After I got home I clicked over to Facebook to see if people were doing the same kind of thing, and folks were certainly talking about it but they were beyond sharing the news and were reacting to it with Facebook statuses like “was madly in love with Michael Jackson as a kid. Sad to hear he’s passed away.” and “Oh Michael…what will we do without you!!” I even responded to one of those comments about a childhood memory of my pink fringed Breakdance shirt (it was quite the cool shirt!).

The news cycle on this story just blows my mind, that within minutes the news was around the world, and that we all turned to each other to find out about it, not “the news.”

So maybe it’s not a bad question after all — Where you when Michael Jackson died and how did you find out about it, not because it’s of the same magnitude of 9/11, but because in thinking about it you just might realize just how much times really have changed.

And along those lines, another thought-provoking tweet from late yesterday

At dinner … talking twitter breaking news. Said second coming will hash with #risen

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2 thoughts on “A “Where were you when …?” event?

  1. Where I was when I found out Michael Jackson died — at my parents’ house, checking Twitter on the iPhone. Your Farrah Fawcett/Michael Jackson post was how I learned.

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