This is Your Brain on Twitter

With condolences for all those who lost relatives in Mumbai.

As Indian special forces made their way into the Neriman house in Mumbai, I found myself on the front lines of the reporting – sitting in front of my computer, in Jerusalem.

The latest news was always on Twitter, and I was, for a time, one piece of the rapid-response network pushing the news through. Collectively, we had our eyes on every news source, first-hand, second-hand, and other. The stream of tweets often contained every fact and its opposite – there are gunshots, the raid is over, the hostages are dead, there is celebrating in the streets, the commandos are still in action, the police are charging the crowd, there’s gunshots, the hostages are released, the police should push the crowd back. Time delays of different sources made for a bizarre admixture of contradictory reports.

I bounced between browser tabs – video feeds, blackberry messages from men on the ground. Those that seemed to have the ring of truth (how do we judge truth?) I sent on. I was a nerve cell. I received signals and sent them forward. 40 years ago, Marshall McLuhan pointed out that electric media effectively creates a worldwide nervous system for the planet. Indeed.

I feel as if I personally lost someone close to me. A consequence of being a nerve cell in this global body, it seems.

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