The Good, The Bad, & The Sometimes Ugly Side of Social Media

Last night my wife and I were jolted awake by a cacophony of metal on metal.   Laura shouted “what was that?” – I responded without hesitation “That was a really horrible car accident.”  I threw on my clothes as quickly as I could and just as I was about the leave our bedroom she said “take your phone so you can call 911.” I ran out of our house, and onto the street.  Lying upside down in the center of the street was one single car.  Nobody was near the car. It was oddly still. As I ran closer it became more apparent that I was the first person to arrive at the scene.  Another gentlemen met me from the opposite side of the street. He had just missed what had happened. I knelt down to see who was trapped inside – rapping on the window – and expecting the worse.  I leaned in and said “hello, are you OK?”  To which a woozy response came back “yeah, I’m OK.”  The driver of the car was sitting right side up on the roof of his car. Dazed by the collision, but coherent.  I dialed 911.  As I waited there with the man stuck in his car in the middle of the street, we got to talking. I noticed a flask by his side. Not cool. I also noticed bills with his name on them.  I asked him if that was in fact his name  – it was.  (I won’t use his name here of course).  As the EMT’s showed, windows were smashed and more neighbors began to get out from their cars to see what had transpired.  All of them photoed the incident.  Two of them filmed the entire ordeal with their iPhones from the moment they arrived on the scene.  I stepped back before they shattered the window to extract the man, but decided it would be inappropriate to photo him, the extraction, or anything else until he was removed from the scene. I did however, take this photo.


My point?  Frankly, I’m not sure.  Maybe I’m posting just to back up my point that the manner in which we all aggregate and disseminate information has definitely changed?  To drive home the idea that social media is a cultural shift.  We all generate content.  But maybe I’m a little concerned about this one?  There were approximately 7-10 civilians on the scene. Two have video of the entire event.  All have photos. I shared my photo on Facebook as a cautionary tale (making the assumption the driver was drunk) – but what if I were wrong, and what if I didn’t exercise judgement and posted the man’s full name? Now I’m posting here, which will most likely glean a few hundred views.

I have to admit, I’m a bit uncomfortable with this one. For the first time, this “social media guy” is concerned it’s gone just a bit too far.  What would those people have done if the man being extracted was dead? Would they have continued to film, post and share?  I was speaking to the man, and I knew he was OK, but I made an effort to be respectful and not photograph or video tape him, but I know that others did.  What would happen if a family member found out about their injured son via a social network? Is this just a sign of the times?

Maybe I’m still figuring out how I feel about all of this? I was certainly affected by the event, and want to share with the community hereto hear what you think? Am I being voyeuristic and hypocritical by even posting this blog and photo?  Let the discussion begin …