Yes I am late in writing this. I debated on if I would write anything at all about Michael, but after yesterday's memorial I had to. It was very touching, and made it very real. Michael Jackson's passing has had a profound affect on the world, on fans, and on social media. I first heard of his passing via a text message from my friend Chad at 5:24 pm on Thursday, June 25 that said "Michael Jackson died 2day - heart attack". I was working from home in front of my computer, but I don't think I had logged into Twitter yet that day so I was getting the news late. I immediately jumped on Twitter and searched for #michaeljackson. Tweets were flying by so fast that I could not keep up. I think I saw a Tweet that said something like "Fox news, so far you are the only one reporting that MJ is dead. I will believe it when I see it on Cnn, thanks." I was starting to lose hope so then I hopped over to Google and searched first for just "Michael Jackson" and got nothing relevant, then "Michael Jackson dead". CNN.com was one of the first sites that popped up with the story, and my heart sank.
For me, like many others in my generation, MJ and his music has always been there. I was 8 years old when Thriller came out. I had the LP. That's a large black vinyl record that plays on a turntable for you extra young folks. :) I played that thing out!! Over and over again... And the videos??? Wow!!! My neighbors and I knew all the moves. I was a fan from when I can first remember listening to music. I had every one of his albums after that time, and now I have the CDs. Ironically just about 4 months ago I introduced my children to Michael Jackson. I have 6 year old twin girls, and 3 year old twin boys. Together we watched all the videos and clips that I could find on Youtube. They got a big kick out of watching mommy try (keyword: try) to still do all the dance moves from the videos. And although scared of Thriller at first, they kept asking to watch it over and over again. And there were many questions about why he looks so different now and why he is pretty like a woman. LOL!!! That was interesting to explain.
So many people hit the web at the same time as news spread to find out if it was true that Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and AIM all crashed for a brief time. And TMZ.com which was reported to be the first site to break the news crashed under the pressure as well. And surprisingly Google News users were also having trouble getting search results. CNN reported a sharp rise in traffic receiving over 20 million page views in an hour. Other sites reporting a surge in traffic and problems from it were PerezHilton.com, the popular but raunchy and controversial entertainment site, Wikipedia, and the LA Times. I'm sure there were more.
This is a mobile age. Social Networking users can now access their accounts from their phones, netbooks, desktops, or laptops. This allows for more and more people to be involved in social media as popular sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter offer mobile applications and websites for many popular smartphones and cellphones. A major event like the biggest star on the face of the earth dying causes everyone to need instant news. Most internet sites are not setup to handle such huge traffic surges at one time. I personally experienced problems searching Twitter and logging into Facebook. I jumped over to MichaelJackson.com which for a time was down as I am sure the webmaster was changing the site.
I experienced a similar problem yesterday during his memorial service. The service was streamed live all over the internet on sites such as Myspace, CNN.com, MTV, Facebook, and more. It is reported that well over 1 billion people across the globe watched the memorial. A good number of those people were multitasking and watching while tweeting, updating Facebook statuses, or IMing and emailing friends to share in the experience. CNN and Facebook even hooked up to embed the live video into a chat window to allow Facebook users to chat with each other while simultaneously updating their statuses while watching the 4 different available live feeds. I got logged out of Facebook I think 4 times while the memorial was airing. There was definitely a lot of strain on the web. There is something almost empowering about being able to share in an emotional event like that with a bunch of "strangers" on the internet. The internet brings people together. A shocking event like the death of the King of Pop causes those people, no matter how different they might be to connect and share their feelings.
How did you first hear of MJ's death? Was it Social Media? A phone call? Televsion? Or a text message. However it was you first heard of the news, technology was involved. It will definitely be one of those moments where years from now people will ask each other "What were you doing when you heard that Michael Jackson died?"