February 12, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Anchorage Museum will archive social media reactions to 7.0 earthquake


Social media reactions to the powerful earthquake in Southcentral Alaska will be part of the historical record to be archived by the Anchorage Museum.

Alaska Public Media the record will include viral memes and other Facebook and Twitter responses to the Nov. 30 quake that struck 7 miles north of Anchorage.

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake damaged roads and structures but caused no widespread catastrophic damage or deaths. It has been followed by thousands of aftershocks.

Museum director Julie Decker said the internet is where stories and photos are being shared.

“They‘re really a record of our time, that kind of popular culture response,” Decker said. “That human response really tells the story the best, so we‘re making sure we document those.”

She pointed to a popular meme that featured a mock five-day Alaska forecast calling for conditions to escalate to “ice locusts” and a “polarbearcano.”

The meme was created by Anchorage web developer Steve Keller, who posted it on Facebook the day after the quake. He said he’d had enough after hearing that the weekend forecast called for a storm and strong wind gusts.

“I was not in a good place; I don’t think many of us were,” Keller said. “When I heard that forecast – that we were looking at high winds and snow – I was like, ‘This is getting absolutely biblical.’ ”

Besides collecting memes, the museum in the week following the quake invited Alaskans to share their earthquake poetry online.

For Decker, pop culture and poems show something vital about the state.

“There’s kind of this empowered nature in Alaska, to the memes and other things that are going out there,” she said. “I think that’s really revealing about our character and our story, and I think that’s what we convey to outsiders, ‘We got this.’”