This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of Twitter saving someone’s life, but I must say even so it still makes me go “Wow!” (For a very different example, please see “Hunger Striker Khader Adnan, Saved by Twitter.”) I’m sure some of you are reading this and going, “what on earth is she talking about?” Well, I’m referring to this article that I found in The Guardian this week when it came across my Twitter feed.
The story starts with a man who is driving home in South Africa when his car is hijacked and he is shoved in the trunk. Ingeniously the man sends a text message to his girlfriend, who then sends out a message on Twitter asking for help. A friend of the man’s girlfriend saw the tweet and had the idea to send it to a tweeter named PigSpotter who has more than 110,000 followers. Once retweeted out by PigSpotter, many people including security companies were on the lookout. With everyone pitching in, the man was found and returned home safe.
Twitter has grown into what I would consider a rather controversial platform over the last few years. (For an example, please read “Twitter’s New Censorship Policy: Betrayal or are the Protests Wrong?”) But, it is stories like this one that make me think about how differently things would turn out if it didn’t exist.
Yes, there may have still been revolutions in the Middle East as the tension had been brewing for a while. (For more, please see: “A Deeper Dialogue on the Media’s Role in the ‘Twitter Revolutions’.”) Yes, celebrities would still have a fan base that they interacted with in one way or another. But little issues such as this rescue would never have been noticed. And for someone like the man in the trunk of his car, that’s a matter of life and death. It’s enough for me to forgive some of Twitter’s more egregious faults and actually appreciate what Twitter allows us to do: communicate.
(The photo is by Rosaura Ochoa via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)