CHRISTINA — DAY 36: Tragedy and social media

Lenten Facebook Fast

Spectators at the Boston Marathon in 2013, less than a mile from the finish line and within hours of the bombings.
Spectators at the Boston Marathon in 2013, less than a mile from the finish line and within hours of the bombings.

Today is just under a week away from the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings that took place on April 15, 2013.

I currently live in Boston and was at the marathon last year, just like many other Bostonians.

I know it sounds strange, but the way I found out about the bombings was through Facebook. A friend of mine posted an article, urgently, on my wall about the bombings, asking if I was okay. Luckily, I was safe and back at my dorm (thank God) and on Facebook, uploading photos of the marathon.

I couldn’t believe it. I remember my moment of disbelief.

What followed was hours of reaction to the events and trying to contact loved ones to tell them I was okay. The cell phone signals were jammed, and even my texts weren’t going out.

The best and most efficient way to tell everyone I was okay was through Facebook.

It’s moments like those when I realize the value that social media can have in our lives. I remember checking profiles of friends, as they gradually all said, in a status, “I’m okay.”

I also remember the outpouring of support. In a way, I took comfort in seeing the emotions of the event unfold in all of my friends’ expressions online. The virtual stage provided an outlet for that.

This year, I won’t be on Facebook when the one-year anniversary is commemorated. I will, in fact, be at the marathon.

The spirit of Boston knows no boundaries, whether those are virtual or in “real life.” To all of you out there who will commemorate the day, as well, my heartfelt solidarity is with you.

Christina Gebel

Christina Gebel

Christina Gebel is originally from Cincinnati, OH and holds B.A.’s in psychology and theology from Saint Louis University as well as a Master of Public Health in maternal and child health from Boston University. After college, she spent two years as a full-time volunteer with Amate House in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys writing, photography, and serving as a doula and Lamaze childbirth educator. She currently resides in Boston, working in the field of public health. Christina's area of interest is maternal and child health as well as combining faith with health.