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The Social Media Paradox: Using the Web for Sandy Relief After the Buzz Dies Down

Our collective attention span is shorter. Yet, the real-world impact of disasters such as Hurricane Sandy reverberate for years.



People consume more media for shorter amounts of time today. The culprit in large part is social media. As the founder of Attention USA, a New York City-based social media marketing and communications agency, I’ve seen first-hand how cultural consciousness shifts more quickly than ever before, because the plumbing of social media allows everyone to share and socialize with little friction. In short, our collective attention span is shorter. Yet, the real-world impact of causes and disasters such as Hurricane Sandy reverberate for years.

Naturally, conversation about Sandy spiked right after the storm, and then jumped from one week after to one month later until the communications vacuum was refilled by the next crisis. Sadly, this ebb in conversation correlates tightly to an ebb in donations and volunteerism. Furthermore, as life has returned to "business as usual," for many of the people who spent the weeks after the hurricane glued to social media for disaster updates the drive to answer the question, "How can I help?" has faded.

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