Last month, we published a blog post examining the question, “Is Social Media Good or Bad?” One of the arguments in favor of social media is that it helps people make connections. Sometimes, those connections can help you get a job. Sometimes, they’ll give you restaurant recommendations. And, sometimes, the people you meet online may just save your life.

Twitch Followers Support their Favorite Streamer

Mike “qik1” Iarossi is a streamer on the popular live video game play platform, Twitch. He, like more than 2 million other people, broadcast themselves playing games like Fortnite, Hearthstone, Overwatch, etc., and more than 15 million users daily watch them. Iarossi has been on Twitch for seven years, the same length of time the Amazon-owned platform has been in existence.

Twitch is about more than just watching people play video games. People get to know one another through the chat features built into the platform. Streamers also broadcast themselves doing every day activities, so that gives viewers insights into their lives.

Iarossi has built up quite a following on Twitch, and in late September those followers became concerned about one their favorite streamers. He didn’t look well, they said. Iarossi admitted that he’d been having severe stomach pain. However, he didn’t want to go to the hospital in his hometown of Ohio. He thought he wouldn’t be able to pay his hospital bill.

That’s when Iarossi’s followers stepped in. One started a GoFundMe page, and others donated to the page or sent Iarossi money directly through PayPal. Thanks to his online community, Iarossi went to the hospital and is continuing to get the medical care he needs.

Triathlete Gets Help from Twitter

Iarossi is not the first person to get medical help because of support on social media. In fact, stories dating back to this one in 2010 indicate that social media saves lives more often than we might think. In 2010, Leigh Fazzina fell over the handlebars of her bike while racing in Connecticut. Fazzina was injured, unable to walk, and separated from the rest of cyclists participating in the event.

She tried calling for help, but no one heard her. She tried phoning family and friends, but poor phone service meant her calls didn’t go through. Ultimately, Fazzina tweeted out a message to her 1000 Twitter followers. According to Adweek, “Her Twitter followers, mainly people she had never even met in real life, jumped at the opportunity to help her. Half a dozen phone calls to police later from places as far away as New York, Chicago and California, help was on the way. Within minutes of sending out the tweet Fazzina heard the ambulances coming to rescue her.”

Social Media Saves Lives During Hurricane Harvey

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit southern Texas hard. It led to the deaths of 82 people and caused $125 billion dollars in damage. It was also difficult to communicate in the heavily flooded Houston area. 9-1-1 systems were sometimes disconnected or worked very slowly. Keri Stephens, a communications studies associate professor, told The Daily Texan that, “‘people would post on their private social media feeds to get help and spread information, and their friends would share that with their networks’.” The result was that a large audience was then able to find out what was going on.

In nearby Katy, Texas, Elizabeth Robinson also told the Texas paper that she and her friends used social media to share information during the natural disaster. “Using GroupMe, they shared information such as when the city would release water from the dams or when the high school opened as a shelter to those who lost their homes.” The dad of one of Robinson’s friends was involved in the rescue effort. He took to Snapchat and recorded information in Spanish to ensure that those who might didn’t have access to more informative English-speaking news could still get crucial information.