This week I had my first experience with a snow day that was mediated by social networking. I live outside Philadelphia and our region was caught up in the massive storm that blanketed much of the northeast this past week. My kids went to school as usual on Tuesday morning, but were sent home early in anticipation of the storm.
That afternoon, as we watched the road vanish beneath a torrent of flakes, the big question was whether school would be called off on Wednesday. My opinion, which was not welcome, was that the town had sufficient notice to prepare, and that plowing and salting would make the roads safe by morning.
Afternoon gave way to evening, and my kids’ anxiety level was rising. The inches were mounting up, but now and then the snow was splashed by the whirling yellow safety lights of salt trucks and snow plows.
My wife kept her tablet on hand to check a Facebook group for our town, where members post items of local interest. Contributors debated online about whether there would be a delayed opening or a full snow day.
Several Facebook contributors took it upon themselves to refresh the school’s Web page over and over, in hopes of getting to be the very first one to report the school’s decision. Others monitored TV channels, scanning for our district’s name among the closure notifications crawling across the bottom of the screen.
“Anything yet?” asked my sons approximately every two minutes.
One guy posted to the group that he’d just seen our school come up on the local CBS station, but was immediately corrected by several others, who said he’s misread the name. Duly chastised, the original poster issued a sheepish apology. My children howled for his blood.
“When I was a kid, we didn’t have all this Internet stuff,” I said. “We had to wait until morning and listen to radio while they read out the names in alphabetical order. Our school started with an “S” so the wait was excruciating.”
They had little sympathy for life as it was lived in the stone age.
“I’ve got something!” called my wife. A Facebook poster had announced that the school Web site was declaring a snow day for Wednesday. It took awhile to get official confirmation because so many people checked the school’s site at same time that it went offline for a bit.
Once the snow day was confirmed, there was much dancing and rejoicing and firing of Nerf guns into the air.
The following morning dawned as bright and peaceful as a Bob Ross painting, with our neighborhood buried beneath nearly a foot of white crystals. So delighted were my kids at the thought of a snow day that didn’t complain even once when I sent them outside, shovels in hand, to get to work on the driveway.