Japanese influence is a glowing strand in California’s melting pot – from architecture to food to fashion- and tonight the two cultural hubs are even closer. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck 15 miles below eastern Japan Friday moved the country 12 feet closer to North America.
As if Earth hadn’t already shown off enough, energy from the quake travelled over 5,000 miles and 20 hours to reach the shores of southern California where waves caused $50 million in damage and killed one person, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The massive quake and subsequent tsunami that conjured up waves of over 30 feet in some areas confirmed just how connected we actually are – and how connected we can be.
Technology, as daunting as it may be (particularly for those modern cave people such as myself), is amazing to watch as it evolves and adapts its applications to pressing scenarios. In rapid response to the tragedy, Google created a People Finder app to help Japanese find their missing in the aftermath and allows users to update information on themselves or others. As of this post, Google’s People Finder noted that is currently tracking 91,200 records. Wow! Big Brother may be watching but he can be pretty well-intentioned.
Citizen journalism lived in the shaking buildings and on roof tops of flooded (#understatement) streets: UStream served as a platform for Japanese to post personal videos of the destruction and share local news coverage.
I was glued to my television for hours late Thursday-early Friday PST watching networks call in the troops but jumping through channels, refreshing websites and zigzagging through apps didn’t seem to satisfy my appetite for newer news.
When I finally gave in to my sinking eyelids around 2:30am, I lay in bed craving more information. But why was last night any different? There are nights when I go to sleep without having checked the latest on Libya or updating myself on the Wisconsin protests and think nothing of it. The magnitude of Japan’s tragedy and the thought of “the Big One” shaking SoCal resonated a little too close to home.
It seems massive tragedies are some of the few inspirations left that shake our smart-phones from our hands, our eyes from Facebook (you can stop checking, there’s nothing new) and revert our attention to a world at large that has been reduced to the comfort of knowing it’s at our fingertips but we don’t need to access it right now. After all, Charlie Sheen’s streaming live.