Monday, March 5, 2012

Pause before you Post

Recently a couple of my friends were involved in a serious automobile accident about 6 miles south of the small town where I grew up. Less than 4 hours after the accident, the names of friends were shared across the world via a Facebook post. Approximately 120 miles from the accident, I knew more about the situation than my brother who lived in my home town and hadn't checked his page. What I don't know is whether my friends' daughter who lives in Ireland learned of her parents' accident from family members prior to seeing the Facebook post. I share a personal event, but we've seen this happen with injuries and fatalities on the fire ground.

News travels fast in today's society, but I think every generation could attest that technological advancements have accelerated the flow of information--consider the printing press, Paul Revere, the Pony Express, express mail, and party-lines. Regardless of the technology, the bigger question of having knowledge is when to share it. What are the "rules" for social media engagement and exchange of information?

I'm not sure there are any "new" rules for sharing information that differ from the basics of communication and social etiquette of previous times. Common sense and compassion should guide your decision to post. Put yourself in the position of the family, would you want to hear about an accident or death involving someone you love via social media? Some may answer with a resounding "yes" to this question; but consider your position to be in the minority and err on the side of caution. Pause before you post.

Fire leaders will have a difficult time containing information since we can't make people do anything; however, we can influence our subordinates and peers to "choose the difficult right over the easy wrong."


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