(Social Media) Thoughts on the 2012 New York City Marathon.

On Thursday morning, I typed this:

In the wake of a “superstorm” like Hurricane Sandy, is a marathon a good thing?  I can’t answer this question with a definitive yes or no.  I can see the positive and I can see the negative.  Apparently, the New York City Marathon route is more or less unscathed.  And you can’t deny the sense of pride and identity on the day of the marathon — things the area so obviously needs right now.  But the marathon passes through all five of New York City’s boroughs, and people are so obviously still suffering in those boroughs.  But… as someone who has experienced the race as both a runner and a spectator, I just hope that at this point, the marathon takes place safely on Sunday.

Then, after seeing the state of Staten Island on the news Thursday night, I definitely started to lean “anti” marathon.

And then we saw the protests begin — on the news, on blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook…

And then, the marathon was officially cancelled.

I wasn’t planning to publish a post on the marathon dilemma — I don’t live in New York and I’m not running the marathon (although I did run in 2010 and 2011).

But I can’t help but think:  if it weren’t for social media, would the race have gone on?  In my opinion, social media played an integral role in the marathon’s cancellation. 

Sure, citizens and public officials were interviewed on the news vocalizing their negative feelings toward the marathon being held.  And “traditional” petitions were carried out as well.  But when hundreds of negative articles are published by journalists and bloggers via the Internet… when mentions of the New York City Marathon on Twitter suddenly carry an extremely negative sentiment… and when a Facebook campaign grows in “likes” from less than 1,000 to more than 50,000 in 24 hours… well, that’s just some grassroots activity that even eternal mayors can’t ignore.

And the blogger/Twitter lover in me thinks it’s pretty awesome that people are now capable of contributing to change like this.

That’s all I have to say about that. 🙂


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