Community linked through technology

An editorial from The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS, W.Va. —  Often we hear complaints about how new technology – smart phones, tablets, social media – is alienating us from each other, keeping us from connecting in a human way. How refreshing it is to see that same technology bringing us closer together, albeit in a moment of crisis.

On Monday morning, The Inter-Mountain posted a breaking news item to Facebook, letting the community know a 9-year-old boy was missing and had last been seen on Lavalette Avenue in Elkins.

Community response to the post was instantaneous. More than 7,500 people saw it in the first hour after it was posted, with about 150 sharing it on Facebook. By mid-afternoon, 17,000 had seen the post.

Within 10 hours, more than 20,000 people had seen the post, with several hundred sharing it.

Police found the boy Monday morning at a relative’s home in Jimtown. The posting of this happy news was quickly seen by more than 11,000 people, with nearly 100 “liking” the post.

We thank everyone who shared the post, or posted their own information or response, and especially those who offered their prayers for the little boy’s safety.

Kudos to Elkins Mayor Van Broughton, who was releasing information to the public as soon as it became available Monday.

“Communication being great and everyone working together is what makes this town and county as great as it is around here,” Broughton said Monday afternoon. “I also want to thank the citizens on Facebook for sharing my post and getting the word out. They were ready to go out and search if the dog couldn’t find him. I thank the media, Facebook and the citizens of Elkins and Randolph County.”

Broughton took to Facebook Monday evening to once again thank the community for their assistance in finding Shifflett.

“I would like to take this time and thank all my Facebook family and friends for spreading the word on the missing 9 yr. old this morning,” he wrote. “It is wonderful to serve as Mayor in a community where hundreds of folks care enough to take the time to share news such as this in order to help the situation,”

“Thank God that this child was found safe and sound in such a timely manner,” the mayor wrote. “I am so grateful for all of you who shared the message! I am so proud to live in the greatest community in West Virginia! Have a Blessed Day my Friends! Love You All! Van.”

We share Broughton’s enthusiasm and gratitude for the concern the community showed during the incident, as well as for the heroism of the officers and volunteers who searched for the child.

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