Earlier Monday, as Sandy bore down on the East Coast, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told Poynter.org via a spokeswoman, "There are now 10 pictures per second being posted with the hashtag #sandy — most are images of people prepping for the storm and images of scenes outdoors."
Then there are the Sandy photos — on Instagram, Facebook and elsewhere — that are totally fake, as Sci-Fi blog io9.com pointed out. Some — like the legendary street shark of Puerto Rico back in August 2011 — seem to be straight-up trying to trick people. For the most part, however, these fake shots seem to be coming from East Coasters like me who are so tired of stressing out over this that we've turned to the best coping mechanism of all, making fun of stuff.
You may have even gasped at them (along with your "Like") on Facebook: Apocalyptic clouds swirling around the Statue of Liberty's crown, or epic waves crashing against her base, not to mention the ocean barreling through the streets of midtown Manhattan.
These, as io9.com — and anybody with an eye for the movies — notes, are borrowed from "The Day After Tomorrow," and, I surmise, the doomsday clouds of "Ghostbusters."
Speaking of "Ghostbusters," the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man — a favorite in fake photobombs of all kinds — makes an appearance for Sandy, as he did in 1984, once again menacing midtown.
"Whoever believes these [photos] is [not very bright]," says Aiden Phelps, this guy I know from Facebook.
Maybe so, I tell him, pointing out that it's not like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man hasn't trashed Manhattan in the past.
What's more, many of the people commenting with concern on the photos (or actually stuck in the middle of this maelstrom), are believing what they see for that very reason — concern. For those of us on the East Coast, our Facebook profiles are filled with best wishes for our safety from friends who aren't in the storm's path.
Most of these photos — whether culled from that crummy Jake Gyllenhaal movie or featuring Godzilla emerging from the waves — weren't made to make fools of others or make light of a dangerous situation.
Sandy is serious business, and nobody knows that better than the residents stuck in the middle of the storm. For those of us at home with little else to do but watch the windblown reporters yelling at us to stay off the damn beach and update our social media statuses while we still have electricity, anyway, there's only so much you can do after you've cleared the supermarket shelves of beer, water and Wonder Bread — you either stress, or make with the funny.
Me, I spent the day I should've been flying to Las Vegas — where I'm to be maid of honor in a wedding for some lady I only know from Facebook — helping my first-floor neighbor bail water out of her apartment, trying to rebook my flight to Las Vegas and whining to the good folks of airbnb. After I took my dogs out for a quick drag and dried off, I was more than happy to see funny photos on my Facebook page, including this one from the bride-to-be Patrica Corron, warning me not to help any dolphins.
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