Tuesday morning, 23rd of May, the country woke up to the devastating news of the Manchester attack. Ariana Grande, an American worldwide pop superstar, was playing a concert at the Manchester Arena as she is currently in her world Dangerous Woman tour. The devious attack took the lives of 22 people, including 6 kids under the age of 16, and injured 120 people. During and after the event everyone leaned on social media platforms to offer help for all those in the arena at the moment, it allowed families to send appeals for their missing relatives and it gave people a place to show their support and thoughts for the world to see. Social media managed to do something that nothing or no one else would be able to do in such a destructive event like this, unite people and communities.
Minutes after the attack tweets started to surface from inside the arena. People started writing about the chaos as they heard a large blast within the building which immediately alarmed the police and tweeted for everyone to stay away from the area 20 minutes later. The news of what was happening spread around the city rapidly and the community responded immediately. On Twitter ‘ #RoomForManchester’ started immediately trending as individuals and businesses offered places to stay, taxi drivers offered people free rides, bars stayed open to offer free drinks and food, people online offered phone chargers or a sofa to sleep on, the response was astonishing. Soon after the event, the police announced that there were many fatalities reported, which instantly brought the whole online community together and celebrities took to Twitter, including Ariana Grande herself, to pay tribute and express their sympathy to all the affected.
In the aftermath of the attack desperate families turned to social media in search of their loved ones. Social media sites quickly filled with images of people still missing after the explosion, many of them teenagers and children. The Twitter hashtag ‘#missinginManchester’ became an instant hit as relatives of the missing tried to track them down in all ways possible. Facebook activated its safety check and also set up an emergency helpline for those searching for loved ones. 15 year old Vicky Bates posted on Twitter during the night in search of her friend Heather that attended the concert alone and who she couldn’t get a hold of. Later that night a young boy called Nathan Lamb replied to her tweet letting her know her friend was safe and staying with them at a premier inn as her phone was dead. As the tweet went viral, people instantly praised the platform.
Even after the devastation, many used social media to share stories of generosity by the people of Manchester in the wake of the bombing. One of these stories is of a homeless man, Stephen Jones, who helped tend to victims in the moment of the attack as he was sleeping really close to where is happened. West Ham co-owner, David Sullivan pleading to social media to find this man so that he could provide well deserved shelter and money. Since the online plea started, Sullivan’s son revealed to everyone on his Twitter account that they had managed to make contact with Jones.
The power of social media has really proved itself during the Manchester attack. The world came together as one fighting against terror and showed humanity with the use of the outstanding platforms that are available online. It’s incredible to see the things that can be done when you give the world an online megaphone for everyone to listen!