The Killer Quake of 2011

When the cowbell hanging over my desk began swaying back and forth, that’s when I knew. Unable to control myself, I shouted out to nobody in particular, “Earthquake!”

The next thing I did was send out this tweet:

That’s hilarious, because I didn’t actually dive for cover or flee my building, or utter a prayer or anything — no, while my desk was still gently rocking I sent out a tweet. Almost immediately, the Twitterverse exploded in an orgy of seismic chatter.

In retrospect, there was really nothing to worry about, but during the mild shaking none of us had any idea if it would get worse. Imagine how stupid you’d feel if the ceiling fell down on you while you were making wisecracks about the earthquake on Twitter?

As usual, traditional media dropped everything and overindulged in the story. Imagine a keg of beer falling off a truck and rolling right up the steps of a frat house. That’s the only thing you can compare it to — and the party didn’t end until everyone passed out later that night.

I won’t bore you with my opinions; for a better analysis of how the media treats stories like this, see Howard Kurtz’s piece, Washington’s Earthquake Farce. The key sentence: “Much of the media has only one volume these days, and that is loud.”

The earthquake has passed and we all lived to tell the tale, but hear this: if the desk ever shakes hard enough to actually ring my cowbell, I’m totally out of here.

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