Penn State’s “Osama is Dead Riot 2011”

Last night was amazing for so many reasons.

I was watching The Office on Netflix, while my roommate was getting ready to go to bed. She got a phone call and jumped up to turn on the TV. Seeing her reaction out of the corner of my eye, I paused the episode to find out what was going on. When she hung up, I asked her and she said, “Osama Bin Laden is dead.” Sure enough, as we turned on the news, this was the headline at the bottom of the screen.

My next move was to head over to Twitter. In the years that I have had an account, my timeline has never moved so quickly (and I had thought that the Royal Wedding was a big day for Twitter!). Celebrities, friends, professionals, media… all reporting the same thing. In addition to “Osama Bin Laden,” trending topics such as #GodBlessAmerica and “Mission Accomplished” climbed the charts. After scrolling through Twitter, I switched to Facebook and Tumblr and saw that the reaction was the same across the board. USA Pride filled my social networks.

About 5 minutes after the phone call, we began to hear chanting on College Ave, “USA! USA! USA!” Undoubtedly, the rest of Penn State was finding out through Twitter, Facebook, and text messages that the United States had accomplished something incredible. Within an hour, the noises downtown grew louder and louder. My news feeds were filled with photos and video of the “riot” (it was really more of a party in the street than a riot) that formed on Beaver Ave. Thousands of Penn State students came to join the celebration. Echoes of “God Bless America” and other cheers traveled all the way to my window. [Check out this article from Huffington Post about the riot.]

The spreading of the news was so rapid. It truly demonstrated the way that social media has transformed our society. Twitter is so instantaneous that our President was one of the last people to inform us of the victory.

Two things truly inspired me last night: 1) Twitter’s instantaneous reaction to the breaking news, and 2) the Penn State students who dropped everything to join each other in celebration.

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