Events, News

Hurricanes and the Social Media Sensation

In 2017 we’ve seen more hurricanes than the average in the past 30 years, and there’s no shortage of social media coverage for it.

One type that is easily shared is pictures, or more specifically, memes. Memes are not always pictures, but are usually associated with an image. For example, a photo of Steve Harvey was pasted on top of a satellite image of Hurricane Harvey. However, this was an existing concept as it has been repeated in the past years.

There were also original pictures that garnered attention on social media. One trending photo consisted of a cat swimming through the water after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. What made this image viral was the humorously angry expression on the cat’s face while it swam through the flood waters. The meme was shared on Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook, and became exploitable through the captions people came up with.

Internet pictures were not the only sensations that were about the hurricanes on social media. A series of troll-ish groups and events emerged on Facebook. For example, when Hurricane Irma was approaching Florida, there was a Facebook event titled Everyone Points Their Fans At The Hurricane To Blow It Away happening on the 7th of September. The description of the event encouraged people to use fans, and even air compressors and blowguns, to blow Hurricane Irma away. Over 59 000 were going to this event, and some even shared photos of their fans pointing towards the hurricane.

These troll events were absurd and funny, but some participants took them too seriously. Another example was a Facebook event for shooting bullets at Hurricane Irma. A Facebook group titled Shoot at Hurricane Irma had around 27 000 participants going and 53 000 users interested. Even though the creator of the group, Ryon Edwards, knew it was a joke, some actually considered taking out a gun and shooting bullets into the sky. This led to the local police groups in Florida issuing a warning for people not to shoot their guns at the hurricane. It’s clear that these social media trends are meant to be humorous and lighthearted, but people who take them seriously could harm themselves and others.

We’ve seen much social media coverage related to 2017’s hurricanes. There were memes and events that garnered significant attention, yet it is advisable to not take them too seriously. We’ll have to see what social media will say when the hurricane season of 2018 comes around.

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