Vancouver Riots: Online Communities Fight Back

“Dear Vancouver: Don’t riot because the Stanley Cup Champions aren’t Canadians. Riot because Nickelback are Canadians. #CanucksRiot
As I write this blog post, this Tweet by LouBrutus is one of the most popular on Twitter.
Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media have been on fire (no pun intended) since last night when riots broke out in Vancouver following the Stanley Cup loss to the Boston Bruins.
Some tweets like the one above use humor. Depressed Darth tweets: “it’s times like these I wish I had built the third Death Star, I would end this riot quickly”
Others are more philosophical. Selena tweets: “People fight for life and liberty. You riot over a stupid game of hockey. Way to hurt your reputation and your city.”
But social media has been more than a component to complain and wisecrack about the rioters. It’s become both a tool to find them and a means to turn lemons into lemonade.
The Vancouver Police Department has been tweeting through the entire crisis and is now seeking photos and videos from people who witnessed the riots. And some of these rioting rocket scientists are making it pretty easy for them. Consider this guy who actually bragged about his involvement in the riots on Facebook
Not only are photos and videos pouring in to help identify the hooligans, but so is cleanup help.
At least two Facebook sites have been set up to revive Vancouver’s trashed streets and trashed reputation.
“Once the embarrassing rioting has ended in Vancouver let’s all show the world what Vancouver is really about by helping rebuild and clean up so it is better than it was before.”

 Vancouverites are responding the way many of us would. Fighting to reclaim their city from a few hundred idiots who hijacked it last night. Through social media they’re able to build community with people with whom they’ve never met. As someone who is trying to build a community of bloggers, I find that to be an encouraging trend. In fact a new study counters the claim that social networking isolates people. Turns out those who engage in online communities are actually seen as more involved than those who are not.

So as I watch the videos out of Vancouver, I realize we’re never going to stop stupid people from doing stupid things, but through positive online interaction with each other we can keep them in check.