Social Media as a Decentralized Emergency Alerting System

Too many parents today are reeling from the events of Monday morning,
when a young man opened fire in a crowded high
killing at least three students and wounding others. I know I hugged
my kids extra hard that night.

Like all horrific situations, though, if we refuse to learn from it,
we should expect to repeat it. The lesson I took from Chardon applies
not only to my professional life, and as such, fits into the purview
of this blog, but also my personal life. And it has to do with social

Social media, for all of the positives and negatives bandied about it
is ultimately a tool, another way to communicate. And we know that
when stressful or upsetting situations occur, we reach out and
communicate. The students at Chardon High that morning did exactly
that. In fact, some of the first reports of the shooting can be found
on Twitter
posted by students as the shootings were occurring! This was before
the school was locked down. Before the school’s emergency alert system
was activated. Before the police showed up.

So my lesson is two-fold. First, monitoring of social media, even just
trending topics, can alert one to events that are still in progress.
And who among us doesn’t want to know something is happening sooner?
Second, monitoring of social media, even just local trending topics,
can make me aware of what’s happening in my child’s world. Is his
school locked down? Has her day care been evacuated? Are they safe?
And what parent among us doesn’t want that reassurance?


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