Act or Observe?

Much has been written about Paul Carr’s post from earlier today re: the Ft. Hood shootings. Mathew Ingram has a thing or two to say as well. The main point in some of the after commenting is that Carr’s post is overly broad about blaming “citizen journalism” in a way that is not fair; I agree w/ this concern. But what is also missing in the aftermath are some things that I consider to be right on point:

  • What is the line between observing and recording tragedy and taking action?
  • When it is simply inappropriate to be commenting at all (aka, a hospital or in the military?)
  • Where and when does the concept of individual or group privacy trump the immediate need to “report?”

Over on Ignorance plus Curiosity, is an interesting comment:

Take Kitty Genovese in 1964. Bystanders did nothing about the screaming altercation that ended in her rape and murder. Would Genovese have been any more or less dead if the bystanders had been avid Twitter users?

The general “findings” from the Genovese case is that when people feel that there are more people than them observing an incident of any  kind, they lose the immediate desire to act. So in the twitter age, the risk is that we all become those people who stood by and didn’t call and didn’t help, because we all feel that the world is watching. This is scary.

Right now, the pendulum has swung too far. There are times when it is not appropriate to over share. If you are in the military, if you work in healthcare, if you are a teacher, a priest, a rabbi, etc., don’t tweet about everything. If you are at company event that is not open to the public, don’t tweet. If you can act and help or tweet and observe, please act. If it is not yours to share, please don’t.

Don’t be surprised to find out that Tearah Moore is in some trouble with the military – what she did was wrong. And this is not an example of companies or institutions “punishing” fearless bloggers and social media participants in an attempt to compel silence – it is the the pendulum swinging back to center in a much more appropriate way.

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