News on twitter: Too much too soon?

I don’t imagine I’ll be blogging much over the coming weeks. I won’t lie, the last couple of days have been tough.

Yesterday, my husband was late home from work. His motorbike wasn’t there when I got back from taking the girls to a dance class.

I thought he must have been held up at work, so I got the girls in and started cooking tea.

As time passed, I realised that inconsiderate though he is at times, I would probably have heard if he’d been that late finishing work.

So, I gave him a call. He didn’t answer, so I thought he was probably on his bike on the way home.

I checked twitter to see whether there were any problems with the traffic.

This was what I saw.

But the thing is, I was on my phone and something caught my eye so I zoomed in.

Just to the right of the ambulance, there’s a red motorbike by the hedge.

The same motorbike that hadn’t turned up on our drive.

I knew that my husband would have stopped if he’d seen an accident, but I also knew that with all the emergency services there, he would have let me know he was going to be late.

So as soon as I saw it I realised he’d been involved.

Minor accidents don’t really happen where motorbikes are concerned, and the tweet was quite specific about it being serious – they even put it in capital letters.

When the phone finally rang a few minutes later and I was told my husband was injured and on the way to hospital, I was pleased.

That sounds like a terrible thing to say, but when I saw that tweet I thought he was dead.

And there was nothing I could do other than carry on cooking the tea so I didn’t upset the children.

We chatted today at the hospital about the fact I’d found out on twitter.

He didn’t want anyone to ring me until he knew which hospital he was going to and whether he’d be airlifted. He didn’t want to worry me.

And shouldn’t he have the right to make that decision?

I understand that people need to know there has been an accident and they may need to avoid the area. I’d want to know too.

But was it acceptable for me to find out like that; was there any need for the photograph?

I know nothing about journalism, perhaps this is just what happens these days.

But I do know that for those few minutes, it didn’t feel okay.

I suppose things like this happen all the time, people finding out via social media that something has happened to a loved one.

Maybe that makes it all right.

Or maybe the local newspaper just didn’t realise it was an issue.

Perhaps it isn’t an issue at all.

But for me in those few minutes, it was.

36 thoughts on “News on twitter: Too much too soon?

  1. Aimee Foster

    I’m so sorry to hear what happened and I hope your husband is ok. It must have been so awful for you, finding out in the way you did.
    I still haven’t worked out how I feel about the fact that these days any information we want (or don’t want) is available instantly. Some days it’s a blessing, some days it’s a curse. It’s actually something I think about quite often. Some days I feel like just throwing my phone down the toilet as it drives me crazy.
    Sending lots of hugs and wishing your husband a speedy recovery xx

  2. Jen

    I can not imagine how you must have felt. It is hard to know what is the right thing. My father died after an industrial accident and I would not have wanted to find that out on social media. It was 15 years ago, so it was the newspapers then and it was hard getting the family informed before it was in the local paper. I hope that your husband is OK and that his recovery will not be too horrible.
    Jen recently posted…Save the children club – The MUST HAVE Christmas giftMy Profile

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      Thank you Jen. I also don’t know what’s the right thing. I don’t know whether I’m doing the right thing by sharing what happened, but I wondered if the papers had an insight about what it was like, maybe they might think twice about publishing something like that next time? I don’t know.x

  3. Martyn

    This is awful. I would have hated to find out this way. Those moments between seeing and then finding out must have been horrendous. I know a friend of a friend had found out online about a serious accident and saw their sons car crashed in the picture (He didn’t have any ID on him either) they found out, like you, in a very poor way. I think journalism is a machine that reports and at times forgets the humanity behind it. In cases like this its shocking that there isn’t a better way of publicising the report.

    Not sure what’s right really as I can see the “reporting” side as useful but not in that way. Sharing this though is definitely a start.

    I.hope he’s ok.

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      Thank you Martyn. I hope that sharing this might make them think twice next time. Your friend’s situation sounds just dreadful. I feel like it’s the new equivalent of being dumped by text!x

  4. hayley

    Oh my goodness – That is just awful. I remember reading about an American woman who had live tweeted after finding out about her husbands accident on Twitter, and the outcome wasn’t good. It is so shocking that journalists have the freedom to publish these images, I can understand the need for traffic news but images seem completely unnecessary. I hope your husband has a speedy recovery.

  5. Katie / Pouting In Heels

    Oh Natalie! 🙁 Goodness me, I cannot imagine how utterly terrifying and heart stopping that must have been for you. I’m so glad to hear your husband is ok and I hope he has a speedy recovery. And I hope you get over the shock of seeing that tweet very very soon. You know, it might be worth just emailing the newspaper to tell them what happened (perhaps linking to this post). They probably haven’t even thought of the possible consequences. X
    Katie / Pouting In Heels recently posted…HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR STAGE?My Profile

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      Thank you Katie. I have tweeted them with a link to the post for exactly the reason you said – I just think they didn’t think it through and I hope that next time perhaps they will.x

  6. Tori Gabriel

    That must have been awful. What a dreadful way to find out.

    Slightly different scenario but I was soooo annoyed when I had my first baby and my brother in law announced it on FB. I had family upset with me because I hadn’t told them in person but when the status went up I was still being stitched up! Plus, that was my news to share.

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      Yes, I totally understand why you must have been annoyed about that, social media does seem to take away our right to privacy and the opportunity to only share things in our own time.x

  7. Erica Price

    How scary! That’s a difficult stretch of road – I know it well as my grandmother used to live in Malvern until recently. I do think technology can be a curse as well as a blessing. Hope your husband recovers quickly. Thinking of you. x
    Erica Price recently posted…September Round UpMy Profile

  8. Emily

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this! I did a journalism degree and we were always taught about waiting a reasonable time for relatives to be contacted before reporting any identifiable facts online, not to include images with identifying characteristics etc. But back then twitter didn’t exist! It’s scary how fast news travels nowadays and if a news outlet didn’t report on it then the public probably would – though you might not have seen it so easily. Still, it’s not right that you found out that way. Hope he is on the mend though. Xx
    Emily recently posted…The Craft Channel LaunchMy Profile

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      Thank you. We were chatting about your comment today, it seems to me that taking this approach would be notably more compassionate but I guess it wouldn’t sell newspapers or compel people to visit websites.x

  9. chickenruby

    I hope your husband is ok and it’s not too serious, if i was in your position id be writing to the local paper to make a complaint, they really don’t have the right to report on incidents like that where someone could’ve been killed without checking that relatives have been informed first
    chickenruby recently posted…A visit to the South West of EnglandMy Profile

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      Thank you. I don’t think I’ll make a complaint, I don’t blame anybody. I just wanted to make them aware of it so that next time they might think it through before hitting publish.x

  10. Jenny

    Oh no! I hope your husband is on the mend? It must be awful to find out that way and not know what’s going on. I don’t know how I feel about these things, but I don’t see how that picture was really necessary. Sending hugs to you and your family. Xx
    Jenny recently posted…October Bucket ListMy Profile

  11. Chris

    Wow, this is shocking news Nat, I really hope Phill is doing okay. You are fully correct and finding out through a picture posted on Twitter, should never be the way. I do think it’s fine for them to point out the possibility of delays, so people can make other plans. But there really is no need for a picture of the accident site. It just adds an extra level of panic and dread to an already stressful situation. If there is anything I can do don’t hesitate to let me know. xx
    Chris recently posted…2015 Macclesfield Half MarathonMy Profile

  12. Amber

    Bloody HELL, Natalie. How awful! I’m so, so sorry that you had such a ghastly, frightening experience. That shouldn’t happen to anyone.

    Take good care of yourself over the next few weeks.
    Amber recently posted…Living Arrows – 40/52My Profile

  13. Debbie

    Hi Natalie, Twitter has it’s uses and whilst I think it is okay to warn of delays, it isn’t okay to share photographs of the scene. It’s not as if the photos are of any use and it causes worry for the loved ones of people who may or may not be involved.

    Hope your Hubby is on the mend and not giving you too much of a hard time!

    Debbie recently posted…So SlowMy Profile

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      Thank you Debbie. I totally agree with you, had he just been stuck in traffic it would have been useful to know. As it was, it was just way too much information from social media.xx


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