Social Media A Must For Deaf

Yesterday afternoon, incredible events unfolded in my city, Grand Rapids, Michigan. A man went on an unprecedented murderous rampage, shooting and killing 7 people. After murdering these 7 individuals, he fled by car and at one point, had over 20 police cars and a helicopter pursuing him on the major highways. After his car was no longer drivable, (after his tires were blown and crashing into several police cars), the gunman ended up fleeing on foot and broke into a home. He subsequently took 3 individuals inside, hostage. One hostage was freed during negotiations. The standoff ended several hours later, near midnight, where he committed suicide. All of the remaining hostages were able to safely evacuate afterwards.

I was first alerted by this when I was emailed by the local television station with the headline, “Breaking News!” … I turned on the television to watch this situation, but captions were spotty in the beginning, and the media was being kept at a distance throughout the crisis. So there wasn’t very much information being shared, and this was all happening just over a couple of miles away from me.

Hoping to get more information on this unfolding situation, I hopped on Twitter and Facebook. One friend on Facebook both had a police scanner and lived a couple of houses over from where the gunman was holding the 3 hostages. Another friend on Twitter was retweeting one of his friend’s police scanner updates.

As a Deaf person, I was not able to follow the police scanner and keep closely apprised on this situation. I deeply appreciated the fact that Twitter and Facebook were there for me because if not for these two sites, I would not have been able to also keep my local Deaf friends and I updated as quickly on the situation. Not only were the captions spotty in the beginning, but throughout the entire crisis, the media was approximately 5-10 minutes behind. This could have been dangerous in some instances because multiple roads, highways, and even some businesses were shut down and barricaded.

Twitter (and Facebook to some extent),  in emergency situations such as this, truly served as a radio for us Deaf. In my opinion, every deaf person should get a Twitter account for one reason – to keep abreast as much as possible when emergency situations arise. The only drawback to this scenario is that you have to be following the right people on Twitter in order to keep updated, which can be sometimes difficult to predict in advance.

But it worked out well in my case. Not only was I able to keep my local Deaf friends apprised, but also for several hours I was being the central news source on this crisis, for my entire network on Twitter. Social media for the win!

About A Deaf Pundit

A Deaf Pundit holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public & Nonprofit Administration. In her spare time, she enjoys fantasy novels, gaming and wandering the vast Deaf social media world. View all posts by A Deaf Pundit

19 responses to “Social Media A Must For Deaf

  • J.J.

    Yeah, you need to be following the RIGHT people on twitter. Myself, I only follow national news like CNN and the like…I do follow the S.D. Union Tribute (live in S.D.) on twitter, but they don’t update quickly enough. However, there is talk about the S.D. police force joining twitter..which could include deaf people like myself in Amber Alert messages in the future and perhaps save a kid’s life or two…

  • A Deaf Pundit

    It would be a really good idea for the local police forces to join Twitter, that’s for sure. Hope that does happen.

    There’s already Amber Alert on Facebook, I believe. I follow the MI Amber Alert on there.

  • mm

    The problem with social medias is true accuracy is difficult to define. It’s not always the case what an bystander tweets at the time is an true reflection of events. It may add to, or just distort the whole thing, it is prudent to NEVER accept anything without real proof, believe nothing you hear (!) and next to nothing of what you read is the best guide, do an cross-section of viewpoints and form your own views from that. what we saw in the UK was an juror posting to facebook whilst the court was in progress TO an defendant, the case was dropped, the Facebook user may go to jail for contempt. we still need moderation of social sites, with none, we can’t trust everything we read. Just an aside as many are now deserting facebook and twitter is being hacked on an regular basis, why bother ? I wait for in depth reports via trained reporters personally,and don’t have an twitter or FB account either, most is complete junk.

  • A Deaf Pundit

    Gee, MM… aren’t you the cynic here? :p

    The reports I was getting via FB and Twitter was 98% accurate, since they were reporting what they were hearing from the police scanner. At one point, 10% of Grand Rapids was listening to it. Tens of thousands of people.

    I prefer to do my OWN filtering, and not the media do the filtering for me. I can think for myself, after all. And I would like that to be left alone.

  • Dianrez

    That’s interesting…how do you find contacts when something is happening? Do you use keywords like crisis, name of street, police, or do you need to know the names of people in that location?

  • ridor

    Yes, DP is correct — it all boils down to one’s own flitering. That’s why I consider twitter a must for myself. Which is why I vlogged recently explaining why I think twitter is quite the most powerful social media out there. It simply trumpets other sophisticated (or trained, like MM said) journalists in terms of accuracy & speed.

    R-

  • A Deaf Pundit

    Dianrez,

    In my case, it was my former high school & college classmates who were posting on FB and Twitter. So, I was lucky and didn’t have to search for it.

    However, in other cases, yes, you would search for keywords. This one would’ve been, “Massacre”, “Mass shooting”, “Mass deaths”, “Grand Rapids”, etc. Use all keywords you can think of when a disaster/crisis hits, to find users who are tweeting about it.

  • J.J.

    Yep, I consider the word of a bystander tweeting on equal par with “trained” journalists.Many journalists have been caught plagiarizing their stories and many journalists nowadays have their own biases that color stories. It’s all in the MESSAGE, the SOURCE, and YOUR JUDGEMENT.

  • BigBenFactor

    Having a twitter account will probably be more effective with those who have cell phones like BlackBerry, etc.

    Not too effective with a computer unless I am at the computer and on the twitter account. Maybe some day, there will be a special design tweet phone with the Twitter brand name.

    We had a shooting situation here too. Different state, same situation. Sad.
    ~BBF

  • ridor

    Dianrez, I want to add something to what DP said. In twitterverse, there is a hashtag which will collect & focus on certain topics. If there is a massacure in Grand Rapids, one can add #massacre, it probably will tie your and many tweeters’ comments into that category. I find this very useful when it comes to NAD, Deaflympics, Gallaudet, Switched at Birth etc.

    R-

  • ridor

    massacure? LOL. I meant massacre.

    R-

  • mm

    It comes down to this, do I trust the millions of tweeters who can tweet whatever they want, or, do I trust the established medias who can manipulate too, hard choice really, but the main medias are a lot easier to regulate. I don’t feel safe on social medias so don’t log in to them, to me that is ensuring I get less abuse really, not being cynical. Social media is unsafe, so I don’t join it, when it IS safe I probably still won’t because I am online for an specific purpose and its not socializing. I do that with real people and in person. If I want private chats I don’t join public medias ! or join them and then go private, what or ? I just e-mail and encode everything. change everything twice a week etc.. I could point out terrorists using social medias for propaganda etc too, they well know the value of many people on social sites accepting in blind faith. They would not get that easy access to established medias would they ? worst of all social site owners are dedicated to exposing your privacy, and THEY control your tweet access. You have no security from them. Free speech as always is an state of relevance.

  • A Deaf Pundit

    MM,

    Then what are you doing here on the blogs? The blogosphere is part of the social media venue.

  • mm

    Matter of opinion, its the content that counts, you won’t generally find me talking much trivia to relating I had a cup of tea today ! I’m sure these areas work for some deaf, I am saying it doesn’t work for me and expressed the reasons why I felt that. I’m more into the politics of things than the social side of it. It really doesn’t bother me if I get no feedback on my blogs, I do it for me not anyone else mostly, social areas you want to be included etc and if you had no feedback there it wouldn’t be social and it would bother you presumably, it doesn’t bother me because I don’t feel the need for that. I think its important to say these areas are not very safe for the deaf and corrected the assumption you even have total control, its a myth. Are these ‘social areas’ ? define social.

  • mm

    Perhaps this helps:

    so·cial (sshl)
    adj.
    1.
    a. Living together in communities.
    b. Of or relating to communal living.
    c. Of or relating to human society and its modes of organization: social classes; social problems; a social issue.
    2. Living together in organized groups or similar close aggregates: Ants are social insects.
    3. Involving allies or members of a confederacy.
    4. Of or relating to the upper classes.
    5.
    a. Inclined to seek out or enjoy the company of others; sociable.
    b. Spent in or marked by friendly relations or companionship.
    c. Intended for convivial activities.
    6. Of, relating to, or occupied with matters affecting human welfare: social programs.
    n.
    An informal social gathering, as of the members of a church congregation.

  • A Deaf Pundit

    MM,

    By leaving comments here, and having people comment on your blog, that is interaction. Thus, social media.

    Perhaps this link will help you understand the difference between “social” and “social media”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media

    Note that the blogs are listed as being part of social media. Have a good day.

  • Sarai

    Vancouver, BC’s police force is on Twitter, they are awesome. Like you, I depend on social media a LOT. I used to be left out of friends’ conversations because it’s almost impossible for me to use the phone, but now with texting, I am finally IN! Haha. I love this blog! I’m caught between two worlds – I’m a speaking, non-signing, severe-to-profound deaf woman who wears hearing aids to provide basic sounds. I can’t relate to hearing folks, as I have to struggle to catch anything at all, and I can’t relate to hearing-impaired folks, because most of them reach levels of hearing with their aids that I can’t come close to. And yet I also can’t relate to the Deaf community due to my lack of signing and the fact I have learned to cope very well in the hearing world. Recently, I had some things happen that made me want to reach out to more people who might understand more of what my life is like. Thanks for such a well-written blog! I’ll be back for more. 🙂

  • A Deaf Pundit

    Sarai,

    Thanks for your kind words, and I’m glad you enjoy reading my blog. 🙂

  • BEG

    Yeah, I actually came to twitter during the 2008 firestorms in southern California. (And discovered that San Diego, where I was not living at the time) had a fantastic network of updates about the fire that I could access; Orange County (of course) didn’t. Twitter has been a great way to keep up with this sort of thing, although of course you have to be following the right accounts in the first place. Still, I found them pretty quickly in 2008.

    Hey, Sarai — I’m very much similar to you, though I have started to learn to sign. Drop me a note anytime you’d like, if you wish. (browneyedgirl65 at g mail dot com)

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