SOCIAL media has its detractors and, at times, there are very good reasons to give it a roasting.

But, over Christmas, in my beautiful home village of Hurworth-on-Tees, near Darlington, there was a shining example of social media at its best.

The clock was approaching 1pm on Christmas Day and all was going according to plan until there was a bang and the lights went out. At perhaps the most crucial time of the year, with the assembled family looking forward to their dinner, we had no power.

What had happened? Was it just us? How long would the problem last?

This is where social media comes into its own. A check on the “Hurworth Live” site on Facebook showed that we were not alone. “Anyone got low power?” was the headline on the first post from Sacha. “We have on Westfield Drive,” replied Nick. Gill also confirmed she had a problem, as did Barbara.

The Northern Echo:

As the Facebook page filled up with frustrated villagers wondering what to do, Sacha suggested Christmas dinner might have to be ham sandwiches.

Then, like the cavalry coming over the hill, Katrina came on with a kind offer: “Does anyone need anything cooking? I have room in my oven on Roundhill Road.”

It was promptly backed up by Craig with the warm-hearted post: “Our oven is available in Bryan Close if we can help anyone?”

In many ways, modern technology is undermining our sense of community: pubs, post offices, local newspapers are closing, while texting has replaced conversations in many quarters.

But here in Hurworth, community is definitely being enhanced by social media. It can be angry, nasty and self-indulgent, but it can also be kind, caring and thoughtful.

Thankfully, before anyone needed to leg it round to Katrina’s or Craig’s house with their half-cooked turkey, the power came back on in our house just before 4pm. Facebook exchanges confirmed the happy news in other parts of the village and cheers could be heard in neighbouring households.

Not quite a Christmas miracle, but the dinner – even the sprouts – tasted even better than usual.

That said, spare a thought for mum-of-two Lucy, who had the last word on Facebook: “I ended up getting the barbecue out to finish the roasties – and since the power outage, my oven doesn’t even work!”

Bloody technology!