In the wake of the tragic Kleen Energy power plant explosion in Middletown, people are reaching out in any way they can, including by getting to a computer or logging on through a mobile phone and connecting with people.
Turning to Social Media to Cope with Explosion
Facebook groups and Twitter posts about the Kleen Energy explosion have surfaced over night
By Lidia Ryan
The Kleen Energy plant is seen in this aerial photo following the explosion.
Updated at 2:15 PM EDT on Monday, Feb 8, 2010
Groups have popped up on Facebook, giving people a chance to send out heartfelt messages to the families of victims when they have no other way of doing so. It’s also a place to ask questions and find out what happened.
The largest Facebook group dedicated to the explosion is called “R.I.P to anyone who died in the Kleen Energy Explosion,” and it currently has more than 3,000 members. The group has posted photos of the accident and links to news articles and videos.
Lisa Reeve, a member of the group, shared her personal connection to what happened and used the group as a resource in her search for information.
She wrote: “I worked for O & G for six years prior to moving to California two years ago. I have still not been able to contact some of my co-workers and friends. My prayers go out to the family, friends, and Union Brothers and Sisters of those lost in yesterdays tragedy. And please if anyone has information as to a list of those killed or injured please post where that can be found so that I may know if my friends are o.k. I deeply worried and saddnned by this news. “
Other smaller Facebook groups include “Kleen Energy Plant Explosion in Middletown, CT” and “BEST regards to the familys of the kleen energy explosion.”
And one group called “i wish i saw the kleen energy power plant explosion” has experienced a backlash.
The creator of “i wish i saw the kleen energy power plant explosion,” wrote “i didnt see it/feel it, i wish i saw it, if anyone has a video of the explosion send me it,” and the group is filed under the category “just for fun – totally random.”
People have responded immediately calling the group insensitive, and asking for it to be taken down. Messages including the following were posted yesterday:
“People lost there lives today and all you care about is whether there is video of this or not. You should be ashamed of yourself. If you have any humility you will take this page down.”
Another person posted: “I've been there all day, YOU ARE ONE SICK INDIVIDUAL, if you want to see video come to the site and help the rescue workers search and identify the bodies with your own eyes.”
Different from the emotional responses posted on Facebook, Twitter is being used more as a news resource, with the explosion being included as one of the most active topic with more than 40 related tweets posted in less than 25 minutes. Countless posts have surfaced in the past 24 hours simply recounting the events and linking to news stories.
Many news organizations have also posted links to videos and articles as well as supplying breaking news as it comes in. Others have turned to Twitter to try and get answers they haven’t found in traditional news media like why did it happen? And what is the scientific explanation for the explosion?
In the past few years, social media has proven to be one of the biggest tools used to organize relief, provide news, and offer condolences during devastation. It happened in 2004 during the tsunami, recently for the earthquake in Haiti, and now right here in Connecticut.