Social media can be amazing.
And not just in the sense that it helps people stay in contact as they navigate life and take their own separate paths. Not just in the sense where friends who have lost touch for years can reconnect randomly. Not just in the way that it makes it a lot easier to update friends and family on life events.
For many, it was social media on Wednesday, October 25, that first made people aware that there was something dangerous going on in Lewiston, Maine.
It was social media that allowed some people to know their friends and family members were safe and sound. It was social media that was the catalyst for some people to turn the news on and get fully informed about what was happening.
Social media can also cause a lot of confusion, and the incident involving the heartbreaking shootings in Lewiston, Maine, and the subsequent manhunt for Robert Card, the person of interest in this event, is a perfect example of that.
There are two things that have happened on social media in the last 24 hours (at the time of this writing) since the shootings took place -- many news outlets providing as many up-to-the-minute updates as possible, and a lot of people sharing those updates, and other information as well.
Unfortunately, it's that "other information" that is causing not just confusion in exactly what is happening, but where.
And that confusion can easily lead to panic and misinformation spreading, which has already happened.
It goes without saying there are two things we all want to be doing right now, keeping ourselves and our families safe, and helping in any way we can.
The best way we can help -- outside of listening to authorities and sheltering in place and locking ourselves and our families down where we are being told to -- is by being very careful and selective over the information we share over however long this entire event goes on for.
If you want to keep your friends and families informed, whether through text or social media, share only information that is posted by reputable news sources; and, in this case, the most reputable sources will be local news outlets and the reporters who work for them, or government officials.
It's important to become informed and stay informed, but even more important to make sure that it is reputable, verified information that you're taking in and passing around.
This is already a heartbreaking, delicate, frightening situation as it is -- spreading incorrect information about this situation (or any other, really) will only increase the aforementioned fright and panic.
Stay safe. Stay informed. Stay smart.
Shooting in Lewiston 10/25/23
Gallery Credit: Dan Alexander