23rd May 2017

Last night we saw the worst and best of humanity – and social media


Edit: The doors of Tangerine are open to anybody in Manchester who needs a brew, a sleep, a chat, to use the phone, anything. Please come and see us on Potato Wharf, Castlefield, M3 4NB or call 0161 817 6600.

When I heard those loud bangs a few hours ago (somebody dropped a large chair in the flat above, perhaps?) I had no idea I’d end the night sat in the corner of my bathroom at 2.30am pouring my thoughts and feelings into a blog after our city changed forever.

Tonight, after the explosions at Manchester Arena, I’ve seen humanity open itself up to reveal both its most repulsive and beautiful facets over the internet.

The worst atrocity of all, of course, is the loss of life our strong, beautiful and peaceful city has suffered.

While I waited for news, I had the bizarre experience of standing outside my flat, listening to the sirens and Victoria Station’s unsettling evacuation message, while also watching speculation run wild on Twitter.

Although in the past we’d be happy to wait until morning for our news, the hour or so before details were revealed felt like an age. People posted fake pictures to incite fear and some were convinced it was a balloon.

But once Manchester realised what was happening, I’ve seen almost nothing but openness, care and togetherness. People offered shelter with #RoomsForManchester, the Holiday Inn took in dozens of unaccompanied children and Muslim taxi drivers gave people free lifts home.

While Nigel Farage was crowing to the USA press, comedian Jason Manford started a Facebook Live where he talked to his fans, visibly shaken and in tears – just like the rest of us.

What I’ve been struck by is the speed of social media is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it means a lie can go round the world before the truth can get its pants on. But it also means that those ever-present helpers can be connected with those who need help, instantly.

Tomorrow we have to wake up to an uncharacteristically sunny day and look at the faces of those kids in the papers. Let’s focus on them and the thousands of messages of kindness and love that have fallen like so much rain in this city in so few hours. Let’s not focus on who did this or let it divide us.

Let’s use social media for good and unity. Let’s stand together. Let’s remain strong and carry on. That’s the Manchester way.

By Helen Gradwell, Senior Content Executive