Osama Bin Laden Dies, and the Internet Survives

I was online last night when the first hints of President Obama’s big announcement began to slip out, so of course I checked into Twitter to see what the chatter was. And as a few minutes’ wait stretched into over an hour, I kept looking for a sign — specifically, for a sign that the exploding discussion would break the internet and send Twitter into long night of fail-whaling. Lo and behold, no weighty cetaceans were there to be found! Congratulations, Twitter — whether by luck (Sunday night, little warning) or planning (a steadily improving infrastructure), you survived to watch America react.

And react we did — alongside untold thousands of individual expressions of joy and relief, almost instantly “GhostOsama” started tweeting (samples: “Well this sucks…I accidentally enabled location on my tweets” and “I retired as the world champion of hide and seek”) and a site popped up to answer the existential question, “Is Osama Dead?” (getting points for brevity in the process).

Plus, we quickly found out that a computer engineer in Osama’s neighborhood inadvertantly live-tweeted the raid (the helicopters were annoying and he wanted to take a fly swatter to them), and that one reason the White House announcement was so sudden was that word was seeping out online. Nice work, internets! We celebrated, we spoofed, we worried and we cheered, and we got to do it all where everyone could see and join in. My own sentiments? A Mark Twain quote that floated around last night summed it up nicely: “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”

Update: C.f. Bin Laden’s Online Fan Club Fumes at Death Reports, and some conservatives fume at Obama, apparently for having the gall to preside over something that went well.

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