Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hackham girls in a stormwater drain - I use the word "trust" myself

Yes, I know that I've previously expressed the opinion that the word "trust" is about to jump the shark. But I think it's pretty appropriate in this case.

Jesse Stay shared a post from Mashable, which in turn references an item in ABC (Australia) News. The ABC article begins as follows:

The Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) in Adelaide says it is worrying that two girls lost in a stormwater drain raised the alert on a social networking site rather than ringing triple-0.

Triple-O, you see, is the emergency number in Australia, and is the equivalent of "911" in the United States. The girls had mobile phone access, and instead of dialing 000, they instead chose to update their Facebook status.

Now, rather than decrying and deploring and all that stuff, let's take a moment and put ourselves in the girls' shoes (Nike or whatever). Two girls, in an unfamiliar location, decide to call for help. Where did they turn for help, and why? I'll admit that this is just speculation, but perhaps my speculation is as good as any.
  • The girls turned to a service with which they were familiar. Even though they're under Facebook's minimum age, the girls were apparently familiar with Facebook, and certainly knew how to use it. Presumably the girls had never called "000" before. (I've only called 911 a couple of times, and I'm a lot older than these two girls.) For all I know, the girls might use the text service on their phones more than they use the voice service.

  • The girls turned to their friends/community. Think about it for a moment. Perhaps the girls did not perceive any danger, but they knew that they could possibly get in trouble for being where they weren't supposed to be. So in that situation, are you going to call an adult who is probably going to get you in trouble, or are you going to call...your trusted friends?
When you look at it this way, the girls' reaction is not surprising. Perhaps if we were 10 or 12 years old...or even if we are in our 40s...we'd do the same thing.
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