Recently we had a minor incident in my hometown where a kid brought a gun to one of the local high schools. Now before there is panic nothing happened. The school got locked down for 30 to 45 minutes the kid did not enter the building, but was just on school grounds, and was found almost immediately after he was reported. It was discovered later that this genius of a teenager decided to bring the gun to school to try and sell it. This was definitely a situation that ended up sounding much worse than it actually was and it really displayed the interesting way that our smartphones and social media have changed how latest news has to function.
I was working in the office when I just started hearing people talking about a kid bringing a gun to the local high school and that the school is in lockdown. I start thinking what could be happening and try and see if there is any news. It takes a little while, but eventually a news item gets posted to the local paper. At the same time by that point we discover the situation has been resolved. It was interesting because many of the parents of kids at the high school knew there was a situation before the news media did. Which also meant that the news media needed to get something out as quickly as possible. What ended up happening is that through out the day the story had to keep getting updated because they did not have enough time to actually find out what was happening to try and get something out there.
With social media and cell phones we can get news out quicker than most news media. A lot of parents ended up finding out about the situation at the high school because their teenagers had cell phones. Then people were frantically posting information on social media to share the information further. The problem was that most of what was spreading was rumor about what had happened and the situation was over before anyone started really talking about it. When circumstances happen that cause panic we want to let others know that we are either alright or what is happening. The problem is that we might be contacting before we actually know what is happening and by the time others get it the situation is actually over with.
This then leads to rumors getting spread faster than the real news and the news actually picks up on the rumors instead of the actual story. It is the only way to get ahead of the news spreading through social media. This ends up with having multiple updates to the story being posted throughout the day. Some of the initial rumors were talking about them suspecting that the kid who brought the gun was intending to shoot people. This ended up causing a bit of panic among some of the people in town. There is just a fine line between needing to know and causing undue panic when we don’t know the whole story. Even if the situation had been worse than what was initially reported would it have helped much to know snippets of data that the news media seems to just fill in to make a full story instead of knowing the actual story. Then you have people who continue to share the old rumor when everything is already resolved.