Social media served a vital information sharing source during the 2011 East Japan earthquake and tsunami, also known as the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Not only were popular news organizations tweeting about the disaster, Twitter and Facebook performed as a lifebuoy for some, as families and friends searched for displaced-persons, safety identification, volunteer organizations, fund raising, and moral support. The hashtag, “#prayforjapan” was trending on the anniversary date of the earthquake just recently on March 11 on Twitter. Social media main purpose is to connect people, exchange information, and to collaborate with other users. And it did just that and more at the most crucial time in need for Japan. Many relief organizations such as the American Red Cross also looked to social media to aid the country.
Other ways people took advantage of social media to meet the needs in terms of aid and relief for Japan can be seen through online campaigns such as “#Hands4Japan” on Crowdrise. Two Japanese-born venture capitalists started a campaign on the online fundraiser website, Crowdrise.com, to match donations until the campaign reached its ultimate goal. The campaign specifically supported the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter.
Other key hashtags that were directly linked to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami included:
#Jishin – general earthquake information
#Anpi – confirmation of the safety of people and places
#Hinan – evacuation information
#PrayForJapan – general moral support for victims
These are all a few ways how technology met the needs of the victims in Japan when viewed in a cultural materialistic perspective.