It seems Mother Nature is angry.
Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, Hurricane Katia and this morning early an earthquake in Mexico. Add to that dangerous Oregon forest fires and you've got plenty of natural disasters aka emotional topics to discuss on social media.
Please, can I ask of you?
'Think Before Your Post'! It is the new 'Think Before You Speak'
As we are all emotionally involved as it pertains to our safety and security - we are all human after all - please do your due diligence before you post, and think about ramifications before you rant!
Here are two of the biggest ways people post with regret!
Are you one of them?
Are you not sure you are doing this?
Are you unaware you are spreading false news?
Let's start with learning how to detect false news first!
Watch my good friend Roshanda Pratt as she and her news team tell you how to verify news you see on social media!
Tips to verify information before sharing includes
Investigate the source
Consider the photographs
Inspect the dates
Great tips - we should implement these at all times, not just during a natural disaster!
Facebook Copy & Paste. Don't Fall For It!
I bet you've seen (and maybe copy & pasted) this following post. I would think that if you are an animal lover and live in a hurricane zone you've certainly spotted this one on your Facebook friends' walls.
"If you are evacuating to a hotel/motel and they say they DON'T accept pets, don't get ugly, but simply tell them that is against the law & FEMA established that after Hurricane Katrina!
The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS) was a bi-partisan initiative in the United States House of Representatives to require states seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans for evacuating residents facing disasters.
The more you know!!! Stay Safe everyone!!!! Please share by COPYING and PASTING!"
No matter how many times people tell the poster that it is fake, inaccurate news, they most often shrug and say 'it can't hurt'.
Let me tell you. It can! Post like these that get shared over and over can hurt!
There could be disastrous consequences and outcomes to you reposting something that is inaccurate! Take the post above. What if someone evacuates from low-lying areas inland, and just assumes they can bring their pet to just any hotel 'because Facebook posts from friends told them to'. That would could potentially create havoc and a dangerous situation (with an approaching storm coming) for that person and their pet!
Know that whenever someone ends a post with 'please copy and paste' it's almost never a good thing to do! (as-in: they copied and pasted and didn't check the source themselves...!)
Then this one, have you seen this post about the 'walkie talkie app'?
"My friend posted this on FB. I've never used it, but wanted to post it in case it helps!Those of you in Florida and other areas being hit. I heard of an App called ZELLO if you lose wifi and towers are damaged. It will search Walkie talkies and you can get help if you need it! It helped save a lot of people in Houston."
And the not-so-friendly replies by friends:
"Its just another app that is taking advantage of folks by pushing their advertisements to you and getting paid by the advertisers for every time you open it on your phone....that's why these apps even exist...so that they can get paid by the advertisers."
"...realize before you download it that it DOES require Internet connectivity. If you don't have cell coverage, you likely won't have Internet either. Just sayin'."
Angry Rants Rarely Accomplish What You Want Them To
Case in point?
This week with Hurricane Irma headed towards Florida (and South Carolina) I noticed an angry rant by a local acquaintance about a national chain store not living up to its promised delivery of a generator. The store cancelled the online order without notification to the buyer. Then when it was finally discovered that the generator would not be delivered, it was too late to get a generator elsewhere. I know this Facebook family. They have young kids. They were scared to be without electricity for days. Yet... the poster did not tag the business. He did not address a specific location or store. There was no purpose to this post as he didn't appear to be looking for a solution or revenge or justification or anything else. He was just spewing ...
Angry Rants Make You Look Like an Uninformed and Judgmental Hot Head
Two other local posts that caught my eye were about last-minute cabin reservations. As our local community made hurricane evacuation plans this week, many of us thought evacuation was going to be part of our upcoming weekend. We were warned to be prepared for mandatory evacuations by the local news stations and so we all did, prepare that is. As it turns out, it's most likely not going to happen - the storm has moved west. We might get some rain, some wind and not much more.
Poster #1 was ranting publicly about the owner of the cabin she rented last-minute to get away from the hurricane, ranting about the owner 'keeping half of her money'. She 'cancelled' the reservation, mind you only 24 hours prior and was just so upset. She unleashed an army of angry Facebook friends ready to take up arms against this business owner in a different state - from calling on reporting them to the BBB, declining the charge on the credit card, reporting them to the Attorney General for price gauging and leaving bad online reviews. Wow!
That's not cool in my book! I am pretty darn sure that, as with most rentals, in the fine print it stated that this last-minute reservation was non-refundable. Hurricane or no hurricane. I feel for that business owner - now having to deal with an onslaught of unexpected and undeserved backlash.
Poster #2 mentioned in a private group message she lost out on a cabin rental due to double booking. Nothing else. She moved on.
Remember, you catch flies with honey - and it works both ways, especially in times of disaster when emotions run high. I advise you to take the highroad, whether you are the consumer or the business.
How To Post Without Regret During a Natural Disaster
What can you do instead of spreading falsehoods and rants?
Here are some ideas of things you can do on and offline!
Be the source of good, verified information
Be the voice of reason
Offer real solutions
Network when help is needed
Support local charities
Share FEMA and other government agencies' updates
Work together with your friends to do good
Check on your neighbors
Help out your neighbors
Help with general clean up in your neighborhood
Volunteer at your local shelter or animal shelter
Stay busy and occupied
Get off of social media if seeing the 10x per day news makes you anxious
Share your resources with those in need
Tell a personal 'feel good' story
Go LIVE and show the good in people as they work together to resolve issues
Above All, Share The Positive and Inspirational, Human Stories!