The Power of Unity Through Social Media

I've been finding this post hard to write. For someone who wordsmiths for a living, I found the words hard to come by - to properly formulate thought into sentences. It reminded me though that in times of crisis, sometimes all we have is our words.

Thirteen days ago, we witnessed anyone's worst nightmare. The tragic bus accident that resulted in the death of 16 people who were part of the Humboldt Broncos hockey organization. It is something that no family, friend, team, community or country should ever have to experience. They were a team of passionate individuals on a bus travelling together to play hockey, the sport they love. Its a sport that our country loves - a sport that is ingrained in our cultural fabric as Canadians.

As things unfolded that night as I watched on social media and in the days following, our country came together, united, to help a small Saskatchewan town mourn at an unimaginable time. It really was incredible to watch as everyone dropped what they were doing, to mourn together. It didn't matter who you were or where you lived, no matter where we were across Canada, we mourned and showed our support together in any way possible. Because of the physical distance, a lot of that was done through social media.

It dawned on me that Monday morning after, as I walked past the local Canada Post office that had their hockey stick taped to the window in support of the Broncos, just how powerful social media really was in this time of grief.

I use social media on a daily basis and for work, but never before had I witnessed something like this on social media that brought us together in the way this did. Social media really played a crucial role in how information was not only shared, but how it brought people together. Here are just a few incredible examples of just how powerful social media has been:

  • Watching the initial updates from people posting about the accident late that Friday night, Twitter seemed to be the platform as to how parents, friends and organizations were initially communicating about the accident.
  • Once news began to break about the horrific accident, social media was where people began to mourn publicly and share their memories of the people who had passed.
  • It was how information was being shared publicly for those who needed to seek mental health assistance to cope with the tragedy.
  • The Go Fund Me page, that has now surpassed $13 million, was created and it became the place that people could go too to help provide financial support, which so many people have did.
  • People registering for organ donation spiked after one of the players, Logan Boulet gave the incredible gift of life through his organ donation. This was shared throughout social media and it reminded all of us to consider organ donation {If you would like to check if you're an organ donor or to register, you can visit beadonor.ca. I just checked the other day and had thankfully already signed up as an organ donor}
  • Those from near and afar, from all around the world, put out hockey sticks on their porches in solidarity to pay tribute to those lost in the accident and pictures were shared using the hashtag #SticksOutforHumboldt
  • Last Thursday on April 12th, everyone across the country wore their hockey jersey using the hashtag #JerseysforHumboldt which was documented across social media. Even Drake wore his Broncos jersey at the Raptors playoff game.
  • And social media is how the team is honouring and remembering its loved ones who were tragically lost. A website has now also been created and shared online to honour their memories.

In an unimaginable time like this, I couldn't be more proud to be Canadian. I also couldn't be more grateful for social media and the positivity that was harnessed throughout social media platforms to bring us altogether, united as a country at a time like this. It truly is incredible how powerful our words have been and how they have been used on social media to bring us together. Humboldt, we are with you!

#HumboldtStrong