The flood ensues

The news of Osama bin Laden’s death reached from the hills of Pakistan to the parks of Columbia, Mo. (since the rest of the state is a floodplain).

Greek Town erupted, one Twitter user put it, “as if the United States won the World Cup.”

Putting aside moral arguments as to the nature of celebrating a person’s death, let’s examine the digital data.

“bin Laden” queries on Google increased 1 million percent, while Yahoo registered a jump of nearly 100,000 percent.

The Newseum servers crashed as people tried to access pictures of front pages from around the country. And to say Twitter exploded would be a tired use of the phrase.

Twitter pulled a double Mt. Vesuvius as users poured 12 million tweets per hour into the ether. I’d hate to be at the Library of Congress catalogs for that cleanup.

More than 5,000 tweets per second were recorded at one point. If each tweet represented a person, that rate would match the U.S. population in 16 hours.

Oh, then there’s the story of the guy who tweeted the entire raid or the altered MLK quote, courtesy of a no-name Facebook user and a relatively more famous magician.

How does this add up? The speed with which the news and reactions traveled shouldn’t be surprising. Interesting. But not surprising.

We live in a world with technology and (mostly) free choice. I’m rather fond of the ability to share emotional events in real time, something that wasn’t possible even a few years ago.

To use or not to use technology isn’t the question. Try: how much to use and when to use. 

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