Two years after quake, Japan still connecting online
The deadly 2011 disasters brought many Japanese to social networks like Twitter and Facebook
IDG News Service - At 2:46 Monday afternoon, Japan went quiet.
In memory of the lives lost two years ago in the earthquake that struck at that hour and the tsunamis that followed, a moment of silence was held across the country. From government buildings to small coffee shops, everyone paused -- the Emperor of Japan, politicians, national TV anchors, office workers. In Tokyo the busy subways were shut down briefly, and in some areas drivers pulled over to the side of the road.
At the same time on Twitter, an argument broke out.
At exactly 2:46 many users posted "Mokutou," Japanese for "silent prayers," followed immediately by angry responses along the lines of "You're not praying silently if you tweet about it," and a lengthy online back-and-forth ensued.
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami are forever linked with social media in Japan. In the chaotic days and weeks that followed, with the northeast coast in shambles and hundreds of thousands in shelters with no phone service, many turned to services like Twitter and Facebook to post personal news or keep in touch.
The surge in use drove such sites into the mainstream, where they have remained since. Japanese users that had long been unwilling to use their real names online, sticking to local anonymous networks like Mixi, were suddenly revealing the names of dead relatives and posting pictures of their ruined homes.
"People had lost their homes and families, but they wanted to keep track of what was happening," said Hatsue Toba, a 51-year-old who survived the tsunami in the coastal town of Rikuzentakata, much of which was flattened by a tsunami.
Many residents left the area, but Toba stayed in town and started a small vegetable shop to help local farmers recover.
"At first people didn't have computers, but they could use the Internet with their phones," she said.
Toba made a Twitter account in June and one on Facebook in December, and is still active on both today. Her daily "Good morning" posts are famous among former residents scattered across the country, and her vegetable store became a meeting place when they returned to visit.
Minako Miyamoto, a nurse who lives in the unaffected city of Kanazawa on the western coast of Japan, rushed east to volunteer when she learned how serious the local situation was, and eventually launched a nonprofit to help.
"Before the disaster, I used Mixi, Facebook, and Twitter. But on Mixi, many people are anonymous, while on Facebook people use their real names, so it is more trustworthy," she said. "Even now, I use Facebook to keep in touch with people I met in the shelters."
- Social Media Education: The New Edge for Success Failure to train for social media will cost your business money. A recent report showed how digitally prepared companies can unlock up to...
- Social Media in Technology: A Unified Strategy for Success Find out how social media is sparking a new era of customer and industry-understanding in technology enterprises and how industry leaders are overcoming...
- How Network Connections Drive Web Application Performance Users around the globe, on all sorts of devices, expect Web applications to function as seamlessly as desktop applications. This paper discusses the...
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Why Are Customers Really Deploying an NGFW? It seems every IT Security expert is talking about the NGFW, but what are people really doing? This webcast covers 5 real-world customer... All Internet White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!