In the first, I was driving down the highway when my phone rang and yes- I answered via speakerphone. “Where are you?” a friend asked with “The” voice. I told her I was on 41 South driving back into Evansville. “Get off 41 NOW.” she told me. I was 1/2 mile from anywhere to get off and looked for a way out as she continued,
“A bank robber is fleeing, driving south in the 41 Northbound lanes. He’s going about 100 miles an hour, has a dozen police cars pursuing him, and now they are saying he’s aiming a shot gun to shoot at cars in the lane where you’re driving. He’s probably 4 miles behind you and closing in. He’s shooting at cars, and you’re next in the line of fire.”
A stop light was now in front of me, on red, and I was going to stop behind a petroleum truck, with another 10 cars in line in front of him. I went to the shoulder and passed those cars, turned onto a side road, and breathed a sigh of relief. After I parked, I called my friend back. The alleged robber had been stopped about 1 1/2 miles from where I was parked. She had learned of the situation via Twitter.
Even so, I’m thankful to my friend and my friends on Twitter who tweeted a clear and present danger.
Then, the next night, as I sat down to enjoy a nice movie at home with my husband, the phone rang and I answered. The same voice again. “Where are you?” she asked. I told her we were at home.
“Lock your doors and don’t go outside. An armed gunman just robbed the Subway by UE, and the university s on lockdown while the police look for the guy.”
In other words it was essentially my own back yard. Luckily, we keep our doors locked.
Then I read on Twitter where they were searching. Too close to our home for comfort.
For once, I was glad my kids were at an overnight event. My daughter called, needing to stop by to pick up something extra. It was hard to tell her not to come home, but I didn’t want to risk a 17 year old female teen driving driving alone late night into a hornet’s nest. After almost an hour, the lockdown was lifted. The suspect is still at large. In reading the tweets, the university’s text alert system for students did work – alerting them moments after Twitter had spread the alarm.
Then I spread the alarm myself on Facebook…several of my friends live near me and are on Facebook, not Twitter.
So, twice in two days, with the help of my friends on Twitter, I learned of improbable, urgent situations where I was able to take action to protect myself and those I love. Twitter works faster in those instances than Facebook…if you know who to follow and which hashtags to use.
The next time someone asks me why I tweet, I’ll probably answer, “To keep up to date on news. And to keep my family safer.”
Addenda: In this case, it wasn’t just Twitter keeping me safer. It was having friends who used it well and our using Twitter as another type of communication, to augment real life conversations.