An explosion heard on Twitter

For two minutes last night it seemed possible that my mother’s apartment complex had exploded. (It didn’t.) It was midnight. I was checking Twitter. An Indianapolis friend said there had been a loud boom on the south side that people had heard from miles away. I clicked the tweet’s hashtag and discovered that there had been an explosion. A neighborhood was on fire. This is when my inner monologue started chanting, Please don’t be my mom’s place. Please don’t be my mom’s place. Please, please, please, don’t be my mom’s place. Then came the two minutes of not-quite-panic, more like very-heightened-alert, during which I searched for the cross streets of the explosion on Google Maps. (Typing on a smartphone is irritably slow at moments like these.) Finally the map came up and I was relieved that my mother’s place was in no immediate danger.Whew.

Unfortunately for a lot of people, a neighborhood six miles away did explode, killing at least two people. In the hours immediately after the tragedy, I found myself getting most of my information from Twitter, which was good in many ways and also bad.

Good
There were first-hand reports, photos, and videos from news reporters, people on the scene, and other reputable sources, as well as links to live streaming broadcasts from the local news stations.

Bad
There were rumors that the explosion had been caused by a meteorite, a gas leak, a meth lab, the earthquake earlier in the day in Kentucky, a military drone strike, and as a result of Obama being re-elected. Seriously. ETA: Tonight I have also seen theories that it was a missile attack or a terrorist bomb maker who didn’t know what he was doing because the FBI and Homeland Security have allegedly been seen investigating the debris.

Good
There was helpful information about where evacuees were being transported and the best ways for you to donate or assist. Seeing the fast response and support from the community was reassuring and heartwarming.

Bad
There was a lot of fighting over what hashtag to use for the event. Because the source of the sound had originally been unknown, the hashtag #indyboom had been started. Once it was discovered that the boom was caused by an explosion that had killed at least two people, this tag did seem rather insensitive. Lots of people were using the hashtag #explosion instead, then later #indyexplosion. Unfortunately, once a hashtag gets started it’s hard to get everyone to agree to change it. If you use the less popular tag your tweet is less likely to be seen, and using two or three hashtags in the same tweet eats up valuable characters. I agree, the hashtag isn’t great, but it seemed rather trivial to be fighting over a hashtag when the world was on fire. #indyBoom is the hashtag we’re stuck with. Sorry.

Even Badder
If you thought using the hashtag #indyboom was bad, the only thing worse is being a spammer who uses that tag to promote their spammy links disguised as news.

Despite all that, I found myself glued to the Twitter feed for at least two hours, absorbing all the information I could as it came in. The same thing happened to me last year when the stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair. Even though I don’t live in Indianapolis, I find myself transfixed by any sort of disaster that takes place there. It makes it seem more real when you know exactly where something horrible happened, when you’ve seen a concert where that stage collapsed or if you’ve driven by that neighborhood on your way to the vet.

I feel sorry for everyone who was harmed or killed during this disaster, and for all the people who no longer have homes. But I’m also thankful that all my people are ok. It’s a lot to be thankful for when we’re still over a week away from Thanksgiving.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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One Trackback

JenFul » Indy Explosion Fallout · December 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm

[…] anyone was wondering what happened in regard to that Indianapolis house explosion I blogged about last month, three people were arrested today for intentionally setting the blast that killed two people and […]

Amy • November 11, 2012 at 11:08 pm

That must have been quite a scare! I’m so glad your mom is ok!

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Hopefulloser • November 12, 2012 at 2:00 am

Holy cow PQ! This is so much like what happened to me, but worse, we didn’t have any fatalities. So sad. I was traumatized for so long afterwards. My heart goes out to all those people.

Yup, I’m still barely holding on to the blogging. Actually I’m trying to start over, yet again, pretty much from square one.
:-/

Thanks for always thinking of me :-)

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Merry • November 12, 2012 at 9:07 am

Yikes! There was a similar gas explosion about six miles from my mom’s place. I never thought to check twitter.

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Leigh • November 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Jennette, how do you find the hashtag for such an event? Thanks!

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JenFul • November 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm

@Leigh – A person I follow used the hashtag in her tweet, so I clicked on that and got a list of all the tweets.

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Vickie • November 25, 2012 at 1:30 am

Did you hear thieves were breaking into cars during drumstick dash in Indy on Thanksgiving day? A police officer, participating, had gun stolen out of his car also.

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JenFul • November 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm

@Vickie – I saw that on the news when I was visiting Indy for the holidays. Crazy!

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Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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