How I Aced my Homework Assignment
I’m currently enrolled in Current Trends in Digital Communication, a course in the Professional Development Certificate in Digital Content and Community Management at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies. As an assignment, we were asked to live-Tweet an event; in other words, to provide a play-by-play as we engaged in an event’s discussion.
Prior to this course, I had never used Twitter. Not only did I not understand it, it didn’t interest me. I’m more of a hockey mom, and while I am a Facebook and Pinterest user, Twitter was not my thing. But I registered for this course so that I could learn about social media and bring my digital communications skills up-to-date so, I gave it a go.
At my first attempt, I tweeted while binge-watching a YouTube video series; I failed the assignment. On my second attempt, I tweeted while watching Modern Family on Netflix; needless to say I failed again, miserably.
Instructor Michelle Sullivan encouraged me to try again, so with the help of my husband we connected our television’s old cable antenna. The Voice premiere was on, so I tweeted about Gwen Stefani using the show’s hashtag. But I did not engage in the discussion – mainly because I didn’t know how.
I attended class on Tuesday, March 15, during which we discussed some of the challenges of the assignment. Once again Michelle encouraged those who had difficulties to give it another go – mainly me!
That same evening my husband went to see his brother in LaSalle for a hockey game, taking the AutoRoute 13 Chomedy south as he always does. After class, approximately three hours after he had left, he texted to tell me that he was stuck in traffic due to the weather. I replied with the sticking-the-tongue-out emoji – I had warned him before he left that I thought it was a very bad idea due to the huge snowstorm in the forecast.
I put the kids to bed about half an hour later and I texted him again for an update. I expected him to be closer to home by now, but instead he replied. “I’m at the exact same spot I was last time we spoke.”
“Thirty minutes later and you haven’t moved?”
It was 9:30 p.m.
I concluded that there must have been an accident; I started searching the web for news and found nothing. I checked the Quebec511 webcams; they showed traffic on the southbound but no accident. It did, however, show that the 20 was closed at exit 5 and for a large stretch before and after. I was relieved to have found the source of the congestion and called my husband to let him know that there was no exit to or from the 20.
“You must take the next exit and turn around, the northbound side is clear of traffic,” I said cheerfully.
He paused and responded in his usual calm and collected demeanor, “Sweetheart, there is no way to go. No one is moving and we are sitting ducks – we are being snowed in. At the exit before me there is a pileup of about 10 cars that tried to climb up the exit and lost grip and slid down. At the exit behind me there’s a truck turned sideways that must have slid down as well – it’s blocking any way in or out. When I left home I drove towards the 13 and the congestion started just before just before the 440 Intersection. We would move slowly, come to a dead stop, and then we’d move and stop again. That went on for a while, and by 8ish I was approaching the exit to the 40 so I decided to forget about hockey and turn back home. When I reached the exit the cars were backing up and unable to continue. In despair I pushed forward the next exit… but that was three hours ago, I never made it to my brother’s place.”
I was in awe! And felt really bad for him.
“There were people pushing a car that was stuck in the snow,” he continued. “Outside my passenger window there is a semi-truck that got stuck in the snow on the exit for the airport. The driver was trying to rock the semi back and forth but no luck – it’s a nightmare.” He sounded despaired.
I continued searching for news on what had caused this pile up but I didn’t find much on the English news channels. About 40 minutes later I texted him again and to my surprised he texted back saying, “Still did not move any further.” I replied to ask if the radio was providing updates.
“No. Apparently, there is an accident ahead of me about 1km. I see tow trucks driving by on the other side northbound and police lights ahead.”
“Ok sweetheart. Let me know if anything changes,” I said.
I went back online and continued searching – Facebook, Google – and still I did not have more information about the situation, when snow plows would be passing by, or from the police.
I texted him close to midnight and he replied, “I’m still at the same spot.”
I went back online, and then I thought of searching on Twitter. Bingo! I found Tweets from people who were stranded there with my husband, as well as wives and girlfriends worried about their loves ones. They were tweeting and sharing the same feeling of disbelieve and abandonment.
That’s when it hit me! Hey, this is a story I could report on live! And so I started.
I found a Tweet from a girl who said that she’d removed her makeup with her tears and used the hashtag #TempeteQC – that was my ‘aha!’ moment. I remembered Michelle’s words: “a hashtag is like the invitation to a party; follow the hashtag and be your charming self.” So I followed #TempeteQC which revealed several French Tweets and a lot more information on the situation.
I started reporting to my husband what others were saying while meanwhile posting on Twitter what he was saying. I tweeted every 30 or 40 minutes and well into the early morning. By 3:30 a.m. my phone was running out of battery so I charged it while taking a power nap.
A text from my husband woke me up around 5:30 a.m. Finally, help had arrived! He was driving north on the southbound towards the 520. When he got home around 6:30 he was exhausted, and so was I. Our kids got up shortly after to get ready for school, which was canceled.
To my surprised I had all these Twitter notifications from other users retweeting and mentioning my posts. All of a sudden it was my 15 seconds of fame; reporters from CBC, CTV and Global contacted me for interviews, which I declined. Others asked if they could use my tweets for their story.
The best part for me, besides having my husband back safe and sound of course, was learning how to use Twitter. I succeeded at my assignment and even received bonus points from my very persistent and always encourage teacher, Michelle Sullivan. Thank you, Michelle.
And that is how I aced my Twitter assignment.