Going offline in an online world
On June 16, during the video game industry’s annual E3 expo in LA, a fulltime Twitch streamer named Lauralania - real name Tia - apparently went missing after being seen leaving an industry party in a taxi.
Twenty hours after she was last seen, and having missed work appointments and not responded to calls, her friends took to social media in an effort to find her. They gained support from both industry professionals and gamers. Everyone was working together with the shared goal of finding Tia, hopefully safe and well.
A missing person case in the previous decade would have seen posters being taped to lampposts, maybe even friends and family canvassing the local area. In the digital age information can spread rapidly over social media.
In this case, a request for help by one of Tia’s friends received more than 20,000 retweets and many more posts on forums and sites such as Reddit.
Then Tia showed up safe and sound.
She’d spent the night playing poker, and wasn’t able to contact anyone because her phone had run out of juice.
But, rather than overwhelming happiness at Tia’s safety, something bizarre happened. The same people who did their bit to help the search turned against her, apparently feeling cheated by her actions and alleged irresponsibility.
Tia didn’t ask for more than 20,000 strangers to help find her. She’d just been off the grid for a bit, but it was long enough to cause her friends to worry and start a search.
Twenty years ago, Tia would have shown up and very few people would have known she was ever “missing”.
Today, we’re expected to be in constant contact with our friends, family and even those who follow our activities on social media.
Was she naïve to believe that spending the best part of a day offline would pass by without issue?
It got me thinking about what kind of responsibilities we have in an always-on world, and how this applies to people and businesses.
Think about what would happen if you disappeared for a day. How long would it take for your family, friends and social media contacts to become concerned?
The unknown creates fear, panic, and in turn a lack of trust. Just look at the reaction to Tia’s safe return. Many online commentators accused her of lying about her actions. Some even created elaborate theories about what ‘actually’ happened during those 20 hours.
Now apply this to your day-to-day or to a business and its customers.
If a customer gets in touch via Twitter or Facebook, a delayed response will leave them feeling unimportant. Likewise, if a query is expected to take considerable time to resolve, ensure the customer doesn’t believe they’ve been forgotten about. They want to know you’re on the case, even if progress is yet to be made.
The old adage, no news is good news, needs a modern day reinvention and silence certainly isn’t golden. Regular communication is essential.