Editorial: Social media bomb was senseless

Dec. 17, 2013 @ 11:08 PM

Calls were frantic. They were real.

Children in our schools feared for their lives. Literally.

What happened Friday in the Vance County Schools can be traced to many things. Where it cannot be traced is to the school system. We feel badly for Superintendent Ronald Gregory and his staff.

They got run over by a train. To their credit, they went in front of it best they could and tried to head off the chaos.

For those that missed it, word circulated Friday within the community that Northern Vance and Southern Vance high schools were in danger of a threat. By midday, students had called or texted parents, some including reports of shootings and killings.

All our school leaders could do was respond as they would with any threat. No matter the perception, the feeling or the guess, any threat must be treated as real and serious. Even when it comes through weak sources.

And for those that need their “Bonjour” moment, social media is a weak source when it comes to believable news in this great big ol’ changing world we’re living in. That’s not to say what is shared there is all false — far from it — or that we condemn social media. But for proof of credibility, we invite a random chase of any “news” first reported on social media within the past week and see just what percentage turn up the truth.

Not part of the truth, but facts and reality.

We’re reminded of the elementary school or kindergarten exercise. We sat in a circle, the teacher leaned over to tell a student a message. It was maybe one sentence or two short sentences tops. The goal was to turn and whisper the message to the person on the other side, and when it got back to the teacher, we’d see what was shared.

The message usually fell apart, but the laughter was large.

Nobody with any real sensibility was laughing Friday. Social media bombs are instantaneous. For the most part, an entire school day was lost, fears and panics arose among the smallest children and the oldest grandparents.

We’re sorry our community suffered through this event. To those who aided the situation in a positive manner, we offer praise and thanks.