This gosh darn Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, there’s literally nothing pretty about it. It’s frustrating, sickening and disturbing. As some of you may know, I was born and raised in southern Louisiana. As most of you probably don’t, I’m from Plaquemines Parish – the long protrusion of land that stems from New Orleans and ends with the Mississippi Delta. So as you can imagine, this flippin’ oil spill is hitting me in the gut. It hurts to know what’s going on with our environment and the people of the Gulf Coast. It hurts to see my home covered in thick crude every time I turn on the TV or log in to the online social spaces.
Right now I could write an entire thesis on the whole subject, but well, no one wants to read that. So instead I’ll just talk social media. First and foremost, unfortunately it’s crisis that often shows the true breadth and power of social media. You know what I mean because it’s obvious. It’s the crowdsourcing of ideas, Facebook pages, groups, blogs, Twitter accounts, hashtags, link sharing, etc. Social media is becoming a major player in the way we consume our news. Personally, my Facebook news stream is flooded with updates about the spill from friends and family back home, from news organizations and from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal himself.
We often complain about the mundane/boring updates from Facebook and Twitter, but because of them, I’ve learned of friends who are devoting the next few months to the clean up and of family members who plan on closing their seafood businesses. I’ve looked at pictures from major national news organizations that are quite literally from my old backyard. And I’ve watched BP’s every (public) move. So have many, many others. They are organizing on social networks and venting their frustrations with groups calling for the boycott of BP. Not all of it is negative feedback, others are organizing in search of a solution.
BP has some representation in the social media space with @BP_America. The account is providing followers with updates and links to the situation. Even though it’s simple updates, it is nice to get information straight from the source. Then there is @BPGlobalPR. Nope, it’s not another BP account. Instead it’s a cleverly written imposter that has amassed 51,000+ followers since May 19. Speculation has it that it’s from one of the folks at Funny Or Die. And as reported in AdAge, BP currently has no plans to ask for the removal of the account. And I hope they don’t. Sure, they should clarify a few things so that people don’t confuse it with a real account, but I think it provides another outlet for us to vent our frustrations. It gives a few seconds of “humor” to the situation. Plus, BP needs to keep all energies focused elsewhere for the time being.
I’ll continue with more on this topic next week. In the meantime, and if it’s within your means, please contribute to the cause: http://www.gnof.org
(And a personal note: Bernard Picone, an oyster fisherman featured on The Greater New Orleans Foundation site, is the brother of my sister-in-law. The fisherman and people of the gulf coast once again need all the help that they can get and that we can provide. But it doesn’t just stop there. The wildlife and seafood industry of the U.S. is truly in great peril, and that affects us all, regardless of geography. So please help in any way possible. Thanks y’all.)