Social Media Do’s and Don’ts during Disasters


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Typhoon Mario and habagat just inundated the Philippines, causing massive flooding in the capital and nearby provinces. At times like these, many people I know are online to post weather updates, how they feel about the situation, and to share whatever they want to share.

But these are also times when people can be high-strung. They rant about practically everything–power outage, traffic, flooding, incompetence of government agencies, among others. And when people are hot-headed, it’s easy to tick them off. Even a mere post about what you’re eating at the moment can spark a whole debate.

Unless you want to start a social media firestorm, these are just some tips on social media do’s and don’ts.

1. Don’t post selfies.

Any kind of selfie in times of disasters and calamities will never be appreciated. Don’t post a selfie while you’re knee-deep in flood water. No selfie while your evacuating neighbors are seen in the background. Just don’t take any selfie. You will just come across as insensitive, period.

2. Don’t post food photos.

Okay, this is not as bad as selfies. During inclement weather, I commonly see friends sharing food photos that they are enjoying at that time. It’s quite acceptable for rainy days but can be really frowned upon during big disasters. I remember that during typhoon Yolanda, netizens were just so vicious in bashing those who Instagram food photos. Make sure you exercise prudence when posting #foodporn.

3. Do share weather and news updates.

These are always welcome and especially helpful if you tag friends, who may be affected by the calamity. Tagging them shows that you are thinking of them and that you are concerned with their safety. But make sure you post updates coming from reputable sources. Don’t post anything that has not been validated by credible sources like that stupid hoax about cosmic rays entering Earth from Mars.


4. Don’t rant and don’t humble brag.

Ranting against government agencies, Meralco, traffic, delayed flights won’t help you. Okay, maybe you’ll feel a little better when you see your friends agreeing with you but then, what’s next? You’re still stuck in traffic, your flight is still delayed, and your power is still not restored. So did your ranting solve anything?

Humble brag is even worse. Personally, I hate humble brags during disasters, especially posts that brag how #blessedbeyondbelief you are. Yes, you are safe and sound in your home. Yes, you are not stuck outside. But please, please consider that your friends may have lost their homes, may still be stranded somewhere, or even lacking food and water.

Humble brag is just way too insensitive and you will only come off across as a complete asshole.

5. Do have a bit of fun.

What I love most about Filipinos during disaster and calamities is our ability to be optimistic and inject humor in our situation. You see it in news coverage. When the camera pans, Filipinos just automatically wave and smile at the camera even when they’re on their rooftops or wading through waist-deep flood. It’s that optimism that helps us be resilient, no matter what challenges may come our way.

It’s quite okay to share funny photos during bad times because it jolts people to stop and breathe. But do exercise caution and be a bit sensitive, as well. You can make fun of the situation but never make fun of people. This photo is one of the most common posts I see during inclement weather when people are asking whether classes and work are suspended. I’ve seen this dozens of times but I always, always laugh when I see this.


Personally, I usually just lurk online during times of disasters and calamities. I prefer to just read posts rather than make one or even comment. People are just too sensitive and who knows what can trigger them off.

Bottom line is be sensitive, be sensitive, be sensitive.


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