“Did you feel it?”
That was the question asked on Facebook and Twitter feeds up and down the east coast on Aug. 23 after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit Virginia. For many who did feel it, especially far from the epicenter in places like Boston, the world only went wobbly for a brief period, and then everything was back to normal.
Even before damages and injuries had been assessed (there were few), mocking photos of the “devastation” caused by the temblor were making the rounds on newsfeeds all over Facebook. One in particular featured a set of outdoor plastic furniture with one chair knocked over. The image has since been embellished with an eagle's head ghosted over a US flag and the words, “Never Forget.”
For any cultural phenomenon worth its salt, an official Facebook page is de rigeur. In this case, creative folks with time on their hands came up with the page, “I survived the East Coast Quake.” Posts showed up on the page’s wall such as, “Crazy awesome animation of the quake that destroyed chairs and picture frames!!!” and comments like, “if you didn't feel the great quake because you were sleeping or driving or dead to the world...you don't belong here amongst us survivors.”
Over in the Twittersphere, earthquake-seasoned West Coasters were tweaking the East Coast with tweets like,“Text 'Sorry you spilled your chai latte' to 90999 to donate $1 to the victims of the U.S. East Coast earthquake.” East coasters snapped back, “Hey, West Coasters mocking the EastCoast Quake: We'll remember this when an inch of snow paralyzes your city.”
To put things in perspective, had the earthquake been a serious one that knocked out electricity and communications networks for a long time, people would not have been able to Tweet or update their Facebook statuses. That would have been no laughing matter. But the flurry of online wit was fun while it lasted.