Boston Strong Stay the Course

Stay the Course

The 1896 Summer Olympics resurrected a long distance course first run by Pheidippides thousands of years before when he  announced the Greek’s victory in the Battle of Marathon.

A year later, 1897, Boston—the city from which the American Revolution was born and whose shot was heard ‘round the world—began holding its annual marathon.

The Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon, is the first race of the six World Marathon Majors, followed by London, Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo.  Surely all of those with races to come are reassessing their events.

As a runner myself, I can attest to the greatness of these types of races.  They unite runners from around the world, not only in healthy competition, but also in fulfillment of personal athletic achievements. Marathons are celebrations of life, strength and perseverance, and they stand as a testament to hard work, dedication and the human spirit.

Yesterday, the focus turned from the usually glorifying to the unexpectedly horrifying. The two bombs, which claimed three lives and injured over 140 others, commanded the attention. With runners from 96 different countries, Boston’s was, again, a blast heard ‘round the world.  This one meant to invoke fear, isolation and chaos as opposed to liberation, independence and peace.

We don’t yet have answers for who and probably will never have a satisfactory answer for why, but the what—like Sandy Hook, 9/11, Oklahoma City—are forever embedded into our minds and culture.

Our Social Media Manager, Nicole Hernandez, eerily asked in her post, How Could Social Media have changed 9/11/2001, if social media (during a terror attack) could help us grasp what is going on in the midst of the mayhem, or if it could change the way we piece together information after these disasters.

For the first time in American history, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube really played a major role in the dissemination of information to the public. While Sandy Hook and the Movie Theater Massacre horrors spread through social media, they weren’t anywhere near the magnitude of the outpour in Boston yesterday.  The nature of the event, with media coverage, large crowds and photo ops (some of the same reasons it was likely a target) served to bring us real time images and reactions as they were unfolding.

Did social media make a difference? Did it help? Did it hinder?

Amateur and professional pictures of the blood and carnage made its way from televisions to computers, tablets and phones and seared themselves in the minds and hearts of all. Real-time conversations took place throughout the day between individuals at the event, members of the media, celebrities and others all around the world who were following the story. However, social media did as much to add to the chaos as it did to appease it between talk of a third explosion at the John F. Kennedy Library, the “false flag” confusion and countless conspiracy theories.

In retrospect, social media hasn’t given us any magical answers or insights, but it will be another artifact preserving this day in history.

A great part about races is the encouragement runners receive from others to continue moving forward—support is thrown especially to those runners who are tired, weak and drained (physically and mentally) from people (strangers even) who are simply there to pick up their spirits.

Perhaps a more valuable contribution social media brings in the face of tragedy, is not the graphic images, the sensationalized reporting or the borderline enquirer way we disperse tragedy, but rather the contribution lies in its ability to let others express kindness, sentiments of love, support and prayer. What was an attempt to drive fear and isolation to us as individuals has again brought us together, carrying the weight of loss and fear and pain together.

The first marathon was run to proclaim the defeat of an enemy. Our running together shouts to our enemies, whoever they are, “we are not conquered.” We will continue to run. We are one in the race, carrying each other if we must, as we trudge towards our finish lines.

Cover Photo Source: Dylan O’Dowd via Flickr

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Cassandra is a Content Manager and Developer at SJG. She earned her BA from Fontbonne University in 2011. Outside the office, she enjoys an active, healthy and well-rounded lifestyle including reading, writing, running, golfing, watching films, listening to music, taking photographs, and consuming media and social media.[/author_info] [/author]