BASS: If it looks like an earthquake and feels like an earthquake . . .
I watched Wendy Mesley interview Kelly Kryzanowski of Emergency Information B.C. earlier this week on CBC’s The National.
It was an awkward interview to watch, particularly for a reporter, because it was obvious Mesley wanted Kryzanowski to say, “Yes, you’re right, Wendy. We should have tweeted, ‘Beware of possible tsunami’ as soon as our office desks started to shake.”
Mesley pushed hard, pointing out the U.S. government had tweeted within 10 minutes of the earthquake that hit the Haida Gwaii region, warning people it was a major quake and there was a danger the oceans would respond.
Kryzanowski’s office didn’t do the same for more than an hour.
I felt for Kryzanowski.
She had a definite deer-in-the-headlights look about her and it seemed like she was reading from a script — likely one prepared by another bureaucrat because it had all the right buzz words.
Her office had replied “in a very rapid fashion.”
The emergency duty manager “arrived on scene within 10 minutes.”
They had to wait to verify “the information was appropriate for our area.”
Then she rhymed off a lot of statistics about how many phone calls, emails and faxes were sent out after the earthquake hit.
Perhaps the truest moment in the interview, though, was when she said to Mesley the most obvious and immediate notification people received about an earthquake hitting was when the earthquake actually hit.
We’ve all seen enough news coverage of the devastation Mother Nature can bring to us to know that, when there’s a big earthquake and an ocean within thousands of miles, there’s a strong chance those waves will get worked up and create even more damage.
Do we really need a tweet in a situation like this? Is social media now replacing common sense?
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogspot and all the others have their place in this new wired world in which we live, but perhaps we’re relying on them too much.
This is not a rant against social media at all — far from it. If my computer acts up or my laptop won’t connect to the Internet, I’m the first to complain.
I use my smartphone to text — usually my teenager, asking when he’ll be home or if he’s having dinner with us — and have a healthy Facebook presence.
Yes, I have Facebook friends I have never met but I also have journalist friends I’ve never shared space with — and, with some, we are continents apart and I’ll likely never really meet them.
I send tweets, use three email accounts to keep things in my life straight — and would never tell my teenagers they can’t use technology and social media.
It’s simply a reflection of the world in which we live — and, frankly, I’m one of those parents who believes the fact my children have cellphones just makes it all that much easier for them to get in touch with me if they need to, be it an emergency or just an update on their day.
But, the reality is also I don’t have enough time in the day or interest to go to Twitter or Facebook to find out everything that’s happening around me.
It’s why, when people call at work to ask why something wasn’t in the newspaper, I have to tell them that if they’re relying on me to check every Facebook page there is to stay abreast of events, it isn’t going to happen.
Social media is just another tool in my world.
I use it when I need to — and I have to think that, if my house was shaking, things were falling off shelves, the animals were freaking out, the wind was howling or the rain was coming down in torrents I hadn’t seen before, I’d know something bad was happening.
I don’t need to go online to know that.