Do you understand what you ‘like’ or do you like whoever posted it?
Context is defined as “circumstances or conditions in which something exists or takes place; surroundings.” It is also defined as “the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.”
It is important that as we, the fire service, use and understand this social media stage we are strongly encouraging firefighters to read. It seems obviously understandable but if you spend some time watching who is posting what and who is 'liking' and sharing it, you might get the impression that it is not the work that is being promoted but simply the author or poster.
Why does this matter? Suppose you are responsible for delivering information valuable to firefighter safety or tactics. You might gauge your delivery on how you visually interpret the message is doing, getting ‘out there’ on the internet. However, a problem begins to show up when you see your message being endorsed or condemned and the reasons for each don’t jive with the material.
Maybe you notice that your agenda or initiative is making success because so many people are sharing on Facebook and following it on Twitter or discussing it in a LinkedIn group. But do they really understand the message? Overnight you could be the cool guy or coward, the champion for tradition or scoundrel of modernism all because someone of greater popularity took you like a flag and planted you on Iwo Jima. Does that make the material any more or less important?
If the people following and sharing your work don’t fully understand the message, the details, then you may as well be a speaker with a deaf interpreter who doesn’t know sign language.
"Lesson Not Learned – Texas, Tennessee and Emmitsburg – Why Does Johnny Not Read?"
Everyone went home so who the hell cares?
AP/Evan Tucci photo
Bill Carey is the online public safety news and blog manager with PennWell Public Safety, or more specifically FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation.com, JEMS.com, LawOfficer.com and FireEMSBlogs.com. Bill started in the fire service, as a third generation firefighter in 1986, on the eastern shore of Maryland and then continued after moving to Prince George's County. He served as a volunteer sergeant and lieutenant at Hyattsville where he met Chris Hebert and Dave Ianonne, the creators of Firehouse.com. Bill went to work for them back in 2001 and after they transitioned away to new, bigger projects, he was hired by them again in 2009. Bill's writing has been on Firehouse.com, Fire Engineering, FireRescue Magazine, FirefighterNation.com, the Jones and Bartlett 2010 edition of "Fire Officer: Principles and Practice", The Secret List and Tinhelmet.com.