Saturday, October 22, 2011

Notice from afar

There are plenty of people who love to make fun of social media, to belittle it and the people who use it. Mind you, there are people who love to make fun of cupcakes, too. But the critics of social media, I think, too often ignore the positive things.

I’ve written many times before about how I’ve used social media to tell a lot of people that I’m okay after some event in this part of the world. This morning, it was a 7.3 earthquake near Raoul Island, the largest and northernmost of the Kermadec Islands, a very long way from Auckland. However, the first I heard of it was actually a Tweet from an American friend asking if we were okay.

So, after replying to my friend, I Tweeted: “For my friends outside of New Zealand, the earthquake was in the Kermedecs, about 1100km (684 miles) NE of the North Island.” To cover as many bases as possible, I expanded on my Tweet on both Google+ and Facebook:
“For my friends outside of New Zealand, this morning's earthquake was in the Northernmost part of the Kermedec Islands, more than 1100km (684 miles) NE of the North Island—way too far away to be felt in Auckland.

So, yes, we are fine, no we never felt it, and thanks for the concern of those who have asked me about it privately!”
I linked to the article that this blog post also links to. I suppose that draws this blog post even further into my “public awareness campaign”. Or whatever. The point is, all this new media/social media makes this sort of notification fast and easy.

On the other hand, as I also said on Twitter, without social media, “lots of folks wouldn’t know me & wouldn’t wonder if I was OK after an earthquake near NZ.” So, part of the reason I needed to use all those social media outlets to inform folks was because they knew me (and, so, wondered about my safety) precisely because of social media. Man, modern life can get weird and complicated!

And yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Roger Owen Green said...

Well, the distance isn't the whole issue. I felt the earthquake in Virginia - almost as far away - because we're all on the same plate.

Arthur Schenck said...

True, but it depends on the geology as much as distance. The geology of the Northeast of the US is such that earthquakes can be felt from quite far away (and it's part of the reason the New Madrid quake in Missouri was felt in the Northeast).

The Kermedecs are on the same major fault line that runs south, past White Island and on to the Central Plateau and beyond to the South Island. Auckland isn't so much on fault lines, but above a volcanic zone associated with that fault system.

The theory is that the geology is what keeps Auckland from feeling distant major quakes on the fault systems affecting (potentially, at least) the Auckland region, but being on different plates is probably what kept us from feeling any of the quakes in Christchurch.

Scientific knowledge is always evolving, so they may have better explanations one day.