I’m sure everyone has heard of what happened to MJ by now. I first heard the news on the radio while driving home from my summer job in downtown Phoenix. At first, I didn’t think much of it. I figured that Michael probably had a personal doctor and a local police department that would resolve things pretty quickly . I was completely shocked to get home just minutes before the LA Times pronounced him dead.
Like a lot of the world I’ve been watching the news and surfing the internet about MJ non-stop for the last two days. But what really caught my attention was what I heard about the sheer number of people that were doing the exact same thing. In fact, CNN recently pronounced this the biggest internet event in history, far bigger than Barack Obama’s Inauguration on November 4.
At first, the last fact was surprising as the Obama story is historically a more significant event, perhaps the most significant in history. What’s especially astonishing about this fact is that a very large number of people even stayed home on November 4th just to stay online and watch the inauguration, whereas on Thursday, nobody stayed home because the event was so unexpected.
The economic impact of this is undeniable. First, I know quite a few people who left work early to catch coverage of the story, even in this economy where workers should be staying late to ensure they are as productive as possible. Right away business lost productivity and money.
Also so many people online have flooded to relevant articles, looked for TV and radio stations covering the story, and doing everything they could to get copies of old records and movies. I’m guilty of the internet, radio, and TV surfing. The competitive impact is that other businesses have been forced to follow suit and maintain all-day coverage, even if they didn’t want too, because too many consumers wanted coverage. It’s simple supply and demand.
It’s also interesting to see that some of the biggest and most respected companies had problems with their online sites due to the Internet traffic. To list just a few of the incidents Twitter temporarily crashed, Wikipedia overloaded, AIM went down for 45 minutes, and Facebook had a bit of trouble uploading video. I suspect that many media stores probably had long lines, had slow internet speed, and spent a lot of time on the phone answering questions about MJ items rather than making sales.
What’s also interesting is the clear trend that is demonstrated. Most notably, it demonstrates the uptick in social media, and although social media is already prominent in most of our lives, it will mostly likely continue to increase for years to come. More people will continue to use these websites, stream coverage online, and use their mobiles networks to stay connected. Mobile companies likely made out best in the short term as they made immediate profits from millions of calls and text messages during the event. Additionally, I-Tunes also had their best day in years in terms of revenue and hits to the website.
Just like companies were forced to cover of MJ, I think that companies and people will feel the pressure to accept and increase their usage of social media to be a central part of their daily lives. While the casual internet user can get by just fine now, I think this event ultimately shows us that significant usage of social and online media is inevitable. Our society is rapidly changing, that’s why CNN and other businesses have already become power users. The only question is, when will the volume seen on Thursday become the norm.
When alive, Michael’s social and economic impact can’t be disputed. Looks like the same is true even in his death.
Here is the CNN article about the mass internet overload: