Sunday, May 3, 2015

Earthquake in Nepal and the Social Media

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
State Education Director, NRN NCC USA, Oregon chapter,
Former Associate Editor,  The Rising Nepal.

I was  both humbled as well proud to be part of a fundraising for earthquake victims in Nepal launched in Portland, USA by International Open Friendship Taekwondo Championship (IOFTC) at the initiatives of people like Diwakar Maharjan and Sita Rai of Hollywood Taekwondo School. Likewise,  my spouse Naveena Shakya and daughter Palistha Shakya also took part at a  candle light vigil organized by Mercy Corps recently in downtown Portland in memory of quake victims in Nepal. The candle light vigil was attended by hundreds of Nepalese and Americans in Portland.

Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanoes and tornadoes etc are natural disasters which play havoc on the lives of the people and nations. Recently, the powerful earthquake in Nepal with 7.8 magnitude has claimed the lives of more than 8,200 people so far.

At a time when people in Nepal are still confronting the after-shocks, thousands of people becoming homeless and facing unimaginable agonies, the Nepalese diaspora across the world including the  Non-Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA) are sincerely striving to help the earthquake-hit people of Nepal. Equally overwhelming was the help and aid provided by the friendly nations.

Meanwhile, the Nepalese blogosphere and social media sites were abuzz with news, information, photos, YouTube and other visuals related to the devastation of the earthquake. Social media is fast changing the perspectives and lifestyles of the people across the world. So many Facebook friends and relatives in Nepal have been marked as safe giving a sigh of relief to the Nepalese living abroad. This is also a new technological innovation.

But it is also true we are not seeing a lot of original materials on social media because much of the information on these sites originate from mainstream media. However, it goes without saying that we are seeing much more live debate in the social media about the news and views published and broadcast in the mainstream media.

Just ten years ago, before the advent of social media, the mainstream media (newspapers, radio and TV channels) had the monopoly over news and information. Not any more. Today more than ever, the social media has become more ubiquitous and omnipresent than the mainstream media. As a matter of fact, the mainstream media has, somehow, been eclipsed by social media and digital journalism.

Of course, mainstream media and social media have some kind of symbiotic relationship. News organizations are in the early days of figuring out how to most effectively use social media for their news stories. Today mainstream newspapers and TV channels are profusely using the quotes from the Facebook and Twitter as the important source of information. Well,  recent experiences have demonstrated that the social media is the most effective medium in showing the world the devastating consequences of the natural catastrophe and disasters like the one in Nepal.

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