Not surprisinly, the few hours after the disaster hit, Japan's mobile network was not working because of the high demand in calls that were being made. Luckily, many travellers were able to turn to Facebook and Twitter to try and connect with worried family members back home.
In an article I found from ABC, Dan Schallau, an American who has lived in Japan for nearly a decade, was driving in his car when the quake struck. While he and his wife were fine, he said that he was "overwhelmed" by e-mails from concerned friends and family in the U.S. Facebook allowed him to blast a friend-wide message to spread the news quickly. He basically posted "Thank you for your concern. I'll get back to you," he said.
Another example is Nicholas Savino, an American law student who was landing in Japan during spring break at the moment the earthquake hit. When he stepped off the plane, he found the country's phone infrastructure largely in disarray. "I've been using the Internet to speak exclusively. The phone networks have been down," Savino said, adding that he has relied primarily on e-mail and social networking to communicate. "Luckily, the hotel has Internet."
Google even set up a "Person Finder" web app to link victims with family. More than 7,000 records were entered on the site as of this afternoon.
Before the earth even stopped shaking in Japan, plenty of people had the presence of mind to pull out video cameras and share the scenes around them with the world. I know we all don't want to relive this natural disaster, but I have to share this video to capture just how bad it was ..
Within that day, more than 9,000 earthquake-related videos and 7,000 tsunami-related videos were uploaded to YouTube.
On Twitter, hashtags such as #prayforjapan, Fukushima and Sundai rose to the top of the site's "trending topics" index as people spread news and images of the quake. Even Tokyo Disneyland jumped to the top of the list, fueled in part by a photo posted on TwitPic showing crowds of Japanese tourists seated on the ground during the quake in the middle of the Disney theme park.
The best of all is that even the Aid organizations rushed to social media to leverage and promote fund collection. George Takei, a famous japanese-american actor, was tweeting non-stop trying to inspire people to donate to the Red Cross.
So to conculude .. the connection between the two is that even though the earthquake was devasting and we hope to never go through it again, without social media .. it could have been a LOT WORSE!