Today I had the great pleasure of catching up with my LAMP guardian mentor Laurel Papworth in Bondi Beach. I filled her on our progress with TOUCHED BY THE ROAD TOLL and she filled me in on her consulting work and speaking engagements. Then we got to reflecting about the power of social media. On one of many occasions a few years ago, Laurel experienced the incredible immediacy of social media, when she heard about Steve Irwin’s death within World of Warcraft. She quickly switched back to the "real world" to find out if the reports were true, and could find no evidence to this effect on the mainstream news sites, although someone had posted an ‘unverified report’ on Wikipedia. Fortunately, Laurel knew someone who worked at Cairns Hospital, who she called to verify the rumour. Her contact was astounded that she knew what had happened, because the helicopter with Irwin’s body hadn’t even landed yet. This tale became a feature story in the Sydney Morning Herald I believe (Laurel, correct me if I am wrong).
Tonight I have had my own wee taste of the power of social media. I have been travelling for the past two weeks, so it must have been at least three weeks ago that a friend sent me a link to a You Tube video featuring some poor old sod stuck in an elevator for 40-odd hours. Well, on 28 May 2008, Screenhub reported on the case, based on a story in the New Yorker on 21 April 2008.
"How old hat?", I heard myself say. Until I read the New Yorker article and discovered that this guy had been stuck in the lift way back in 1999. Everything old is new again…
The weirdest thing about this whole story is that I too was stuck in an elevator for a considerable amount of time, way back in about 1989, when I was studying at RMIT and went on a field excursion to the Melbourn Sun (now Herald-Sun) offices. Filled with bravado, myself and about three other students decided to take the short cut outta there AKA the goods lift. When it got stuck, we got slightly anxious, but were soon distracted by the many Sun staff who wandered by, and peered into the 30cm verge to ask us "What are you doing in there?"
The potential for sarcasm was, as I am sure you can imagine, HUGE.