Is Social Media to Blame for Blarney Blowout?

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Days and weeks leading up to the annual Blarney Blowout event, students around the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and town of Amherst were buzzing about much fun this day would be.

But it was more than just the locals who caught wind of this event. People from everywhere were coming to visit their friends at UMass to celebrate this day. How did the word spread so quickly and to so many people?

The answer is simple.

Social media.

Every year on the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day local college students celebrate the made-up holiday consuming large amounts of alcohol in the town houses of Amherst and at the local bars downtown. This day symbolizes the start of spring and the realizations that warm weather and the end of the school year is just right around the corner.

“The event has escalated to a state-wide level,” said university director of news and media relations Ed Blaguszewski. “The event took on new life in the world of social media… Through Twitter and Facebook, this is a destination for all sorts of different people off campus.”

Students and friends from colleges all around the area flooded the town houses of Amherst on March 8 to celebrate the day. At what cost though? More than 73 people were arraigned in court as a result of their actions from Blarney. Despite this being an event tied directly to UMass Amherst, more than 60% of those who were arrested were not students of the University.

The driving force behind this event was the vast amount of posts on Twitter and Facebook telling people where and when to meet for this daylong party. Hundreds of tweets and statuses were sent out advertising the event and where the next party destination was.

“My friend from Bridgewater State was invited to Blarney by five separate people, and at least three of them didn’t even go to UMass. They found out via social media and word of mouth,” Maura Dalanis said.

Had it not been for social media, Blarney Blowout would not have escalated to the level that it did, and the number of participants would have been drastically lowered.

But what’s the best way to prevent this event from happening in the future?

Stopping Blarney Blowout in its entirety isn’t going to happen. College kids will continue to make immature decisions and will always flock to wherever the party is. However the university should look into the guest policy for the weekend and see if the amount of visitors can be reduced.

Although social media has brought the world closer together with the ability and efficiency to get information the second it happens, if abused it can lead to nothing but destruction and disturbance to innocent people who live in college towns.

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