On this gloomy Sunday evening, the University of Maryland, College Park campus anxiously awaits the impending arrival of mega-storm Hurricane Sandy as she makes her torrential approach to the DC metropolitan area. We’ve been hearing about it her for days, absent-mindedly watching her progress north. Just another Caribbean storm, thought we. How foolish we were. Now, much of the East Coast is in a tizzy over potentially 50-75+ mph winds and nearly 2 inches of rain. New York City is being evacuated; its subway system wholly shut down. Needless to say, Sandy’s going to leave quite a mark.
About an two hours ago, I (along with the rest of the UMD community) received some eagerly-welcomed news.
Our very own President Loh tweeted this:
President Loh’s announcement was tweeted nearly 20 minutes before an official announcement came from the University. Oh the wonders of modern technology, keeping us informed like never before. (And encouraging us to procrastinate doing assignments even sooner.)
Not that we don’t love going to class each day (we really do), but a little break is nice every now and again. I am personally ecstatic because my probability midterm and English 101H research paper have both been pushed back to later in the week. Yay, Sandy! I suppose the fact that the University’s decision to close for the day is keeping us safe as well. Walking along McKeldin Mall and suddenly getting wiped out by an airborne tree limb is less than desirable.
On a more serious note, though, I am astonished by the frenzy President Loh’s initial tweet caused. For starters, I don’t own a Twitter account, nor did I know President Loh had one. I found out about his wonderful announcement when my Facebook newsfeed exploded with posts such as, “EYYYY no classes tomorrow!” and “Wallace Loh: You’re doing it right.” Evidently I’m not the only one excited.
As a Freshman living on campus with no television, throughout this storm I am going to be completely reliant on a) word of mouth, and b) the Facebook and Weather Channel apps on my iPhone to keep informed. God forbid, if the power is knocked out, we (the residents of UMCP) might be in a bit of a rut. The horror of no WiFi, no Facebook, no MySpace (just kidding), is almost unfathomable.
Over the course of tomorrow and Tuesday, social media will be our eyes and ears regarding the status of the storm. UMD Alerts, a messaging service that keeps faculty, students, and their families aware of campus emergencies, will inform us of how to get food and how to seek shelter if necessary.
I think this a great way to wrap up this blog series. For the past seven weeks, I’ve talked about the wonders of technology and how it allows us to connect with people based on our interests, ideals, etc. Now, I’ve been able to describe social media in action. This is social media having a critical use in our society. Facebook and Twitter are keeping us safe and informed.
Now I’m going to hunker down and pray that Hurricane Sandy doesn’t blow me away. If it does, I’ll be sure to Facebook it. Stay safe, everyone.
FOLLOW President Loh on Twitter.