By Brianna Snyder
1:11 PM EDT, August 29, 2011
Yesterday's tropical storm did a lot of damage in Connecticut, the force of which has resulted in the loss of power to more than 700,000 households. That means 700,000 people are taking cold showers and catching up on a lot of reading. And they're on the lookout for CL&P trucks.
Social media has proved itself a majorly useful tool in big events, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene being no exception. As trees took out power lines and rivers swallowed houses, Twitter was, as always, a fast-moving, info-overloaded place to grab images and updates from all parts of the state and the rest of New England (and everywhere else affected by the storm).
What's disappointing -- and what's maybe one more hint at Facebook's eventually being left behind -- is Connecticut Light and Power's Facebook fan page, set up to provide updates and statistics on who is without power and where. Instead of being a place for CL&P and its customers to gather and share information, it's become an infuriating and obtuse sounding board for people to plead, bitch and scream at the beleaguered power company, whose admittedly sparse updates have been clear about its intentions to assess damage before restoring electricity, and up front about the still-likely reality that some will be without power for a week or maybe more.
These wall posts range from weird accusations of political conspiracy ("I think this situAtion has nothing to do with safety and all about money. Cl & p doesn't want to pay overtime n governor not pushing them. Plus think about all the money We have to spend to replace all the food that has gone bad.") to weirder (and alarming) multi-posts from one woman claiming without power she's running out of air ("we need gas oxygen tanks"; "oxygen is running out"; "need oxygen scared").
This page could be a major resource for people all over the state to share information with one another. It's disappointing that the posts asking whether anyone has any updates from Tolland, Danbury and Kensington have few to no comments. CL&P customers getting their power back could be sharing that information here so that people can get a sense of where the restoration crews are working and what kind of progress they're making.
I love the Internet as a place to keep big, evil, greedy businesses in check, but this Facebook page isn't the place to do that. The posters on the CL&P page aren't making the most of what has proved itself an effective resource. The days of screamy message boards should be over. Twitter's massive news-feed appeal proves that people who know how to work together help each other to stay informed. And the screamers who never listen are left forever screaming into the huge Internet void that's finally largely ignored by the smarter, savvier Web user. I beg you, CL&P fanpage commenters, put your pitchforks down and use this space to share your information, instead of venting your wacky ideas that the CL&P linemen are sipping coffee and laughing at you in their trucks.