Saturday, July 5, 2014

How It All Plays Out

After my migraine abated yesterday I ended up having a wonderful day. Some relaxation time with the family, a great party with some friends, and, at the end, a quick walk over to Talbott Springs for our neighborhood fireworks-watching.

I understand that there are a variety of locations besides the Lakefront where people gather to watch the fireworks. We discovered Talbott Springs last year and love it. People set up their chairs and blankets on one end of the field, and children run, play ball, toss frisbees and so on in the rest of the space. And of course there's the school playground right there as well. As the darkness falls, people break out sparklers and glow toys. It's pretty magical.

At around nine-thirty, I checked Twitter for any indication of when the fireworks would begin:

@courtneywatson1: About to lead the countdown to start the fireworks w. @calvinballteam Are you ready # hocoMD? #Columbia

And then, nothing.

So we all know by now that the fireworks didn't start until ten o'clock. I don't want to belabor the point. I am just puzzled as to why the county didn't use social media to keep residents informed of what was happening. It was the single most effective way of communicating with a large number of people in multiple locations.

Nobody likes glitches, but everyone understands life isn't always perfect. It's harder to understand being kept in the dark (sorry) when it isn't truly necessary. It is particularly hard to swallow since Howard County has been so great at communicating through social media in the past--so much so that all kinds of people I know were going to Facebook and Twitter looking for answers. They felt a reasonable expectation that the County would be there with information.

A confession: the fact that there was no communication on social media got my over-active imagination working overtime. I jumped to the conclusion that something horrible and dangerous was occurring and that the only way to keep people safe and avoid mass panic was to maintain "radio silence." Every helicopter I saw overhead confirmed to me that we were dealing with an active shooter or a case of homeland terrorism.

Sometimes saying nothing is saying something after all.

Anyway, I hear the fireworks were great. We headed home after they started because my daughter was exhausted. We'll be back again next year. It's neighborhood tradition. Next year we want to bring some friends and some glow toys.


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