My heart dropped yesterday evening, when the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing hit me.
I was on my iPad when the BBC News app delivered the news in a brief drop-down notification. Next, my pops called on my mobile phone to share the news (we always share news stories and ideas), just in case I hadn’t heard. Then I went on Twitter and Facebook to read reactions on my laptop, while watching tributes on
TV iPad BBC News Live app.
This morning, I read a simple but profound observation made by Nick Ericcson of the BBC. He says:
Hash tags aren’t really needed on twitter today. Seems we’re all having the same conversation
— Nick Ericsson (@nickericsson) December 6, 2013
It then struck me yet again how times have changed. I refer to the digital age.
The conversations about this great man, Nelson Mandela, would have been limited to our living rooms with our families. For instance, South Africans wouldn’t know America’s reaction beyond President Barack Obama’s tribute and a few vox pops here and there by CNN.
Indeed, we are all having the same conversation, but in addition to that, we are all hearing one another somehow – though not actively listening.
Instagram is packed with images and individually written tributes celebrating Mandela. Social media has become the outlet for expression. On Blackberry messenger, status updates and profile pictures reflect a similar state. Twitter profile pictures carry Madiba’s image as a tribute.
Note that this seems to be fast becoming the customary way of mourning the passing of a dear one. Paul Walker’s (Fast & Furious actor) a few days ago, generated a similar behaviour, though not of the same magnitude as Madiba’s.
Although social media reactions would calm after a (long) while, because that’s the way the cookie crumbles in that space, Nelson Mandela is one of the few men who would live in our hearts for generations.
Rest in Peace Madiba.