(CNN) — National media outlets first learned of the mass stabbing underway at Franklin Regional High School via social media and parents received frantic calls from smartphones and tweets from their children telling them they’re OK, so isn’t it fitting that we also met Nate Scimio, the student who was credited with pulling the fire alarm, the same way? I believe it is, but not everyone does.
Nate is being called a hero by classmates affected by the tragic incident at their high school on Wednesday, and I’m sure he’s the first of many heroes we’ll learn about.
Trinity McCool, a sophomore, spoke to USA Today and described how Nate not only protected her and another friend as a fellow student rampaged through the school, stabbing and slashing, but how he also pulled the fire alarm, an action that eventually saved countless other students. Trinity described an otherwise normal morning as the halls started to fill with students before class.
“The guy next to me was Nate Scimio,” Trinity said. “I’m not sure if he already got stabbed.”
The student with knives came toward them.
“I don’t know if Nate did it on purpose or just instinct,” she said. “He took the stab right in his arm and saved my friend and me.”
“I’m pretty sure it was his instinct. He didn’t want anyone to get hurt.”
“He told everybody to run away. I’m pretty sure he pulled the fire alarm.”
Nate was taken along with 19 others to the hospital after the attacker was subdued. It was then that he snapped a photo of himself, a “selfie”, that has most of the country convinced that he did it all for fame. His selfie happened standing in a hospital gown, with loose, Justin Bieberesque hair looking more like he suffered from a soccer injury, not from being the victim of a mass stabbing attack. He took a selfie and wrote “Chillin’ at Children’s,” in reference to the hospital he was standing in.
The result of his lighthearted photo has been a trashing and analyzing from observers online about whether that selfie was “appropriate.”
When I tweeted positively about Nate, one person replied that he was “taking to social media to get famous from his paper cut wound. Pathetic”
Anyone who is criticizing Nate is clearly out of touch with the way teens communicate with one another and the psychological needs of people after a traumatic event. When Nate whipped out his camera, held up his bandaged arm and snapped that photo, he was pulling his best friends into the hospital room to get a view of his perspective and reality.
When he wrote “Chillin’ At Children’s” to his then approximately 200 followers on Instagram, he was letting his friends know that he was OK.
Not only is there nothing wrong, nothing inappropriate or nothing tone deaf on the timing of the selfie, it’s actually a good thing, completely appropriate and a psychologically natural thing to do in the situation.
There has been a lot of news lately about selfies. Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the Oscars shut down Twitter, shattered records and prompted a ton of celebrities and ordinary folks alike to start copying her. Needless to say, it also had a huge brand impact for Samsung.
David “Big Papi” Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox took out his Samsung for a selfie with President Obama and his fellow Red Sox teammates last week; it went viral immediately. It also prompted calls to change White House policy on taking selfies once Samsung put out a statement bragging about helping Big Papi orchestrate the whole thing.
But what Nate Scimio did is not the same thing at all. He’s not looking to get famous. He wasn’t bragging about his injuries. He had just survived a life-changing and traumatic event, and all he was doing was talking to his friends about it in the quickest and most truthful way he knew how. I guarantee you, sitting there in a hospital gown with dressed knife wounds, he wasn’t thinking about CNN, or Ellen or the morning shows that immediately besieged him. He was sending a message to his friends:
“I’m OK. Chillin’ at Children’s.”