Nothing sets the social media abuzz like a natural disaster, right? Yesterday marked a first experience for me and many others around the area: An earthquake. The normal reaction in this sort of situation would probably be to crouch under a desk or get to some other secure location. But here in the office we just turned around in our swivel chairs, looked at each other quizzically, and then immediately updated our Facebook statuses and searched Google for the deets on what had just happened. This response has become the norm these days, but is it really such a positive trend. Well, let’s look at the facts.
The great thing about the prominence of social media today is that word travels fast. Within minutes the entire world can be aware of an important event. But at some point we have to decide if this knee jerk response is really all that safe. Now you may be wondering how exactly posting something to Facebook or Twitter could be dangerous, so here are a couple things for you to consider.
First of all, in the middle of an earthquake, you should probably be more concerned about the imminent danger of the situation than about announcing the event to your online network. This occurred to me just a short while after the 18 seconds of shaking ceased. Our first reaction here in the office, like I said, was to go online to confirm that we’d just experienced an earthquake. Some team members didn’t even bother to interrupt their phone conversations! Is having such easy access to so much information making us numb? And are we so fixated on our own personal and professional objectives that we’re willing to cast safety and practicality aside so as not to interrupt our next business deal? That’s kind of a scary thought, I must admit.
Another real danger of this type of news sharing is the very real possibility of false information being circulated. Let’s call it the ‘whisper down the lane effect’. By the time the news travels from person A to person Z, the story has completely changed. And unless you were there first hand, there’s no real reliable way to tell if the information being shared with you is legitimate or not.
Ahh, there’s nothing like a good earthquake to make me put my thinking cap on. Until next time, stay safe out there. And feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Is social news sharing a positive or negative trend?