Be my guest @MarkWSchaefer: Twitter as a personal lifeline

June 21st, 2011   •   3 comments   

For those who “get ” Twitter, we already know the opportunities for personal and professional enrichment extend far beyond “what I had for breakfast.”  Twitter can help you:

·         Increase your personal network

·         Build vital business connections

·         Connect you to thought leaders

·         Keep you up to speed on breaking news

·         Become a daily digest of targeted news, information, and best practices

 … and so much more.  But one thing that had never occurred to me was Twitter serving as a vital link, a lifeline really, to my family.

Last weekend, my wife and I headed in different directions.  She took some friends and family members to visit her sister in Florida, I took my 9-year-old mentee Elijah to enjoy one of Tennessee’s magnificent (and remote) state parks.  My last text to my wife was “Remember, I won’t have phone service!”

On Saturday night, we saw a news report that a line of severe storms and tornados were in a direct path of my wife’s return trip from Florida.  Basically the storm cells formed a line straight up the Interstate through Georgia.  Citizens were being urged to take shelter and prepare for the worst.  If you have been following the news, you know that these storms have cost hundreds of lives and billions in damage in the South this year. This was a life-threatening situation.

I was concerned for my wife’s safety.    I knew that she probably wasn’t following the news on the radio.  I could not reach her by phone or text message to warn her — the nearest phone access was at least 45 minutes away.  The park office was closed.  I could get a w-ifi signal at the state park lodge but she would not be checking her emails while driving.

Then it dawned on me — Twitter!  I could make an Internet connection through a Twitter friend.

I scanned my timeline to see who might be online and I saw the happy face of Amy Howell ( @howellmarketing on Twitter).  Amy had become one of my favorite Twitter success stories and I even featured her in my book The Tao of Twitter.  What had started as a casual conversation had blossomed into an important personal friendship and business partnership.

I sent Amy a direct message explaining the situation and asked her to call my wife.   Within a few minutes, I had received confirmation that Amy had spoken to my wife and she was aware of the severe storms ahead of her.

I had discovered a new value to Twitter — personal lifeline!

Of course I grateful to Amy and relieved for my wife, but I am also amazed at how useful this little communication channel can be.   Twitter — a life saver!

Guest post by Mark Schaefer: A consultant and college educator who blogs at {grow}Follow Mark on Twitter @markwschaefer


  1. Koozai says:

    A great story Mark, glad it all worked out. With the tsunami in Japan a lot of people were also able to use social networks to keep in touch, or find what had happened to loved ones. The more methods we can use to connect the better, as you never know when you'll need them.

  2. As my personal Twitter list has grown, so have my interactions, but never anything like this–it just goes to show that people have so much to give and social media can really be a 'giving facilitator.' Great post Mark!

  3. Amy Howell says:

    Thanks Koozai ~ great point. I think until you are faced with a situation that is either dangerous or personal, you never realize the importance of all resources-including tools like Twitter. Preston, Mark just knows I'm on Twitter a lot and when he checked his timeline on Twitter, my face just jumped right out! So here we are..all I did was help a friend and BOOM–there's an example and a blog post. Thanks for your comments. Amy

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