What if…

Posted by on May 14th, 2013

While I attempt to live my life without regret, I must admit there are times that I struggle to understand outcomes.  What I could have done different – done better – done faster.

As I reflect on the news that recently came out of Cleveland, I can’t help but to think that hundreds of people are thinking…

What if…the police had issued an Amber Alert?

What if…the neighbors, his own FAMILY, had paid greater attention to the creepy guy living in that rundown, darkened house?

Well you know what I’m thinking…What if these abductions had occurred today as opposed to 10 years ago, would the pervasive nature of social media have made a difference?

While I am reticent to second-guess the work of the Cleveland police department or FBI, I firmly believe that had these abductions taken place today, social media would have played a central role in leading the way to a prompt discovery and return of these young ladies.

Similar to how social media was used to identify the individuals responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, I am steadfast in my belief that social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter would have exploded with activity.  Friends, friend-of-friends and strangers alike, would have banded together in a unified effort to help the authorities track down these women.

The good news is that the city of Cleveland was greeted with the shockingly positive news that the three women who disappeared more than a decade ago were found alive.  While the facts surrounding their abductions have yet to be told, and none of us can imagine the physical and psychological torture these women endured, it appears the healing process can finally begin for these individuals and their families.

Knowing what I know about how teenagers and young adults interact through social media, I would go as far as saying that had these abductions occurred today, chances are that at least one of these women would have been on their mobile device chatting, texting or tweeting when she was attacked – which would have helped in the search for clues.

While many find it easy to dismiss social media as a detriment to society, I believe the benefits far outweigh the negatives.  Unlike the written word (on paper) and conversations can be easily destroyed, social media leaves a footprint, a trail that in the most extreme situations can be used to preserve valuable information.