I am a member of a couple social networking websites, not so much for the communal aspect of them, but because there are some really good EMS blogs affiliated with them and it is an easy way for me to scan some of the newest stuff happening in EMS. I will admit it is not all altruistic; it is a simple (albeit a lazy) way to keep in touch with my friends too.
The fact that there is some there is great content from creative and motivated individuals and not manufacturers on these social networks is noteworthy. Legitimate manufacturers are taking note though and their advertising on them does validate the work of these people.
A short time ago a police officer was killed and his fellow officers used social networking to express their anger and grief. They needed to share their profound disbelief and loss and this form of communication allowed them do that no matter where their physical presence or the time of day.
But with every good, we have, well, issues.
Recently there was a post on one of the mediums about the death in the line of duty of two public safety workers. This post was done at the scene by another public safety worker before the families of the slain workers were notified. There is no excuse for this appalling behavior. The families learned of their loved ones deaths through phone calls after their friends had read the post. The actions of this irresponsible individual are inexcusable but I believe also demonstrate our values and policies have not yet caught up with the reality of the social networking world yet.
Another post appeared not too long ago that included pictures of deceased bodies at a crime scene. The individual responsible for posting them may be charged with a crime. I believe that this individual was stupid, a moron to be exact, but I also believe the poster’s intent was meant to be shocking, not malicious, though a criminal charge may wake some people up to the inappropriate use of social networking.
In my opinion, social networking has a lot of good to offer and is a great medium for the busy, frantic paced lives many of us live today. Postings can cross the line from legal to illegal however and can have serious ramifications in personal, professional and academic arenas. Unfortunately, when used irresponsibly this public forum can also be injurious. In the end all we can hope for is that people do what is right. It’s that simple.