It didn't fully occur to me when Michael Jackson died or when any other major news event trended through social networks like Twitter and Facebook, what the internet means to the way humans connect during a major event--until today when I saw a vague Facebook status "andy irons" and googled his name to discover that Professional Surfer Andy Irons had passed.
It was late afternoon in NYC and I was sitting in my window-less cube when I found out. I was in disbelief that a Surfer so young (only 32) could pass unexpectedly, and my doubts soon turned into sadness when I saw "Andy Irons" trending on Twitter and the outpour of tweets, "RIP Andy Irons".
At this moment of sadness for the surfing community and sadness for the life Andy could have continued to live, I realized the positive impact social networks and the internet can have on society. Today, anyone in the world with an internet connection can share their emotions of sadness, joy, anger--whatever it is, someone else in the world can experience it with them in real-time, regardless of their location or time of day. While in many ways, the internet is constantly being segmented into groups, communities, networks, etc., we somehow always find each other when it matters.
Although I am from Hawaii, I would not call myself a surfer or an expert at the sport, but I hugely admire Andy's passion for surfing and the magic he creates on the waves. Andy Irons is a surfing legend, and may he rest in peace, I imagine, atop his board in the ocean.