Social media users and crows: What we have in common

A murder of crows

A murder of crows

Some years ago, I witnessed a “crow funeral” on the street in front of my house. What seemed like hundreds of crows suddenly appeared in the air, in the trees, on the lawns, on the roofs, everywhere around my neighbourhood. A young crow had just died on the roadway, and the noise its friends and relatives made was awe-inspiring. Fifteen minutes later the “service” was over and they all flew off in different directions, but I doubt I’ll ever forget impression they made on me.

When I related this story a little while ago, Tom, one of our lunch party, told me that a group of crows is called a “murder” because, when they work together, they can take down large beasts, one peck at a time.

Somehow, after experiencing what it felt like to have a murder of angry, grieving crows surround my house, I can believe it!

I shake my head in wonder at Horizon Realty’s ridiculous $50k lawsuit naming a twitterer who complained to her ~20 friends online about her moldy apartment (see: “Horizon Realty Sues Woman for $50,000,” at And I laugh at Sons of Maxwell’s hilarious music video jibe at United Airlines for wrecking a band member’s guitar, and marvel at United’s refusal to “make things right” until SoM’s video hit millions of views within a week of being posted to YouTube (see: These stories, and others, get me thinking about parallels between a murder of crows and (dare I say it?) a “murder” of twitterers, bloggers and YouTube-ers.

Individually, customers and observers might be small but, once agitated by a perceived injustice, together we are mighty. Corporate (institutional, governmental, etc) behavior, good and bad, has never been so exposed, and individuals have never been so powerful. And, like the crows, we’re a mostly a pretty smart lot. We’re noisy, too, when we want to be.

I’m curious to see how social media re-shapes communications between ordinary people and big, historically strong organizations in the weeks, months and years to come!

What do you think?


-originally posted on my old blog on July 31, 2009

– updated link to Horizon story after link to Chicago Sun article was broken (Dec 3, 2009)


  1. Thank you, Erin. I’ll try to contact Pomegranate. Good luck on your blog!

  2. Hi Judy,

    No problem on the name. Took me a moment to figure out where that came from, but I got it! 🙂

    As for the picture, it is terrific, isn’t it? I suggest you contact “pomegranate,” the person who posted it on Flickr, though. Here is the link to the source of the picture:

    I’ve linked this picture in my blog directly to this Flickr page, too.

    Good luck!


    aka Erin Anne

  3. Erin,

    Oops. It’s Erin, not Jamie. Please forgive me.

    Judy Hansen

  4. Hi, Jamie,
    May I use your photo, “A murder of crows,” on my blog. I write about people and nature in Idaho. I saw a murder of crows one day and didn’t have my camera. When I came back, they were gone. I will, of course, give you credit and mention your blog.

    Thank you.

    Judy Hansen

  5. Glad you liked it, Jamie!

    You know how you were asking me questions about ways to use Twitter? If you find a piece online that you like, that you think other readers who follow you might also like, you can post a link to that piece, along with a comment. If you want to credit the source (always appreciated), you could include the poster’s Twitter name, like this: @erin_anne (my Twitter name).

    For example:

    Ordinary people become powerful through social media: [shortened URL]. Thx @erin_anne!

    Or, if you want to emphasize the “social media” side of the piece more than the “ordinary people” side of it:

    Social media gives power to ordinary people. Post by @erin_anne: [shortened URL]

    What you put for your very first words are the very most important. The first example emphasized people, not the tool, which is what your @maximum_impact consultancy is all about.

    (Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if you stole one of those examples! LOL!)


  6. Great post EA.