Engaging Culture

Another Gruesome Culture Change Thanks To Social Media

The Wall Street Journal reported recently the trend of police agencies to use tarps and sheets to cover accident scenes and victims from passersby using social media. The article quotes Don Lundy, President of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians:

“In the last 10 years it has become pretty standard for us. We wish we didn’t have to do it.”  The Journal goes on:

“You’ll see it at the site of particularly grisly automobile accidents. As the EMTs and other first responders struggle to free the victims from crushed cars and try to save their lives, other emergency workers—police officers, firefighters—stand in pairs, holding up blankets or tarps perpendicular to the pavement. “It’s necessary,” said Mr. Lundy, who is a full-time EMT in Charleston County, S.C. “I don’t think it’s that people have changed. It’s that the technology available to them wasn’t there before.” He was talking about something first responders witness daily, something that dismays them. As soon as there is a gruesome accident, pedestrians and passing motorists reflexively pull out their camera-equipped phones and begin taking photos and videos. “It’s like everyone is a reality-show producer,” Mr. Lundy said. ” ‘Look what I saw, it’s real gross.’ They can upload the pictures and have them seen around the world while we’re still trying to save the person trapped in the car.”

The newspaper reports that it’s not illegal to take or upload these photos, but it does create a concern for families involved in the violence or accidents. With today’s social media technology, it becomes a race between passersby shooting and uploading, and trying to find family members for proper notification.

For better and worse, social media continues to impact our culture…


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  1. “For better or worse…” The jury is definitely still out on that one. I think it is sad when they have to resort to something like this and I think it is sad we are so enamored by tragic events that we have to film them.

  2. I would not doubt that people make money from capturing the realistic. One has to admit that our entertainment depicts the sordid realities in amazing details.

  3. On Saturday I saw a boy seriously injure himself, falling 40ft into water and hitting rocks, and I rushed to help. I was about 200 feet away and passed around 100 people who were taking out their phones or just saying “oh my god did you see that?” And i was still one of the first responders. On days like these I feel like people are the most terrifying thing in the world. The “not my problem” attitude is killer 🙁

    The boy is alright, miraculously only suffered som bad scrapes and a broken ankle.

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