What do you do when an event you have been planning for months is marred by the terrible news that the three kidnapped boys have been murdered? Do you stop the event in the middle, tell the panelists who came from far away that their services are no longer needed and send everyone home? Do you make an announcement and then try to continue? Or do you just ignore the frequent gasps from the audience, who are keeping up with the latest updates via Twitter?
Rightly or wrongly, we chose to continue the Mashable Social Media Day Jerusalem panel to the end and then make a statement about the horrible tragedy. Some criticized us for continuing, others for live tweeting despite it all. Some audience members got up and left to take part in vigils in Gush Etzion. After the panel, many stayed around to talk about their shock and horror, as well as to impart their opinion on the social media panel itself.
Mashable Social Media Jerusalem’s official photographer, Sharon Altshul of The Real Jerusalem Streets, documented the changes in the audience’s demeanor as the panel progressed and the news reached us.
The panel at the beginning of the event:
The audience started out happy and smiling:
Until the rumors started flying on Twitter and were then confirmed:
This is life in Israel. How do we celebrate personal smachot when the country is in mourning? How do we go to work, school and shopping when the unthinkable has happened? How do we continue on when three families can’t do the same?
I don’t have the answers, just as I didn’t have them last night when the news started filtering in. And I am sure I was not the only one with this dilemma – there were about 70 of us at Mashable Social Media Day Jerusalem, but there were others all over Israel and the globe who were at dance classes, weddings, work meetings and school graduations. Each and every one of us has been touched by the strength of the families and the great show of Jewish unity for the past 18 days, and we are all struggling to digest the cruelty of the kidnappers and those who support them.
Moderator Jon Burg said last night that in tragic times like these it’s important to remember how much one person can make a difference, whether online or off. The outpouring of love for the families and support for our soldiers: on social media, at rallies, via donations to Pina Chama (which feeds soldiers stationed in Gush Etzion) and visits to the families, shows that each one of us has the ability to make the world a better place. Ultimately, that is the only answer to terrorism.