Social Media and Tragedy

This blog post is way off of what I typically blog about. I usually veer away from blasting my personal opinions and I keep it semi-factual…But, this is also my blog and the beauty of this whole thing is that I get to do whatever the hell I want on here. I believe in the power of social media, and since I have become a proprietor of the subject, all things involving social grab at me.  This particular topic tugs at my heart as well as everyone else’s I am sure. In lieu of the event which took place in Aurora, CO, this morning- social media had an eerie role and I had to acknowledge. There are 12 people that didn’t get to watch the sunrise yesterday. This post isn’t about the “Batman Massacre,” but it’s about the incredible digital footprints that have been left behind by the victims. My sister text messaged me Friday morning and told me to go on Twitter and look for @jessicaredfield. I did. I have once again been inspired.

Tragedy strikes everyday, some stories we hear, some stories we don’t. This particular tragedy made national headlines as it was the “deadliest attack in Colorado since Columbine, in 1999” (which, by the way- that wasn’t that long ago, I might feel a tad better if happened in 1699 or how about not at all). This whole “tragedy-strikes-again” is starting to feel a little redundant. We all know the drill. Media has the whole routine down, everyone knows what to say, the President will make a statement and visit the town, there will be a candlelight vigil the following evening… I’m not judging anyone at all but, it’s disgusting and saddening that our nation has this all down to a science. I hate it, but that’s how it is. The first words that came out of my mouth this morning when my roommate told me what happened were, “And then did the killer shoot himself?” Well, cause that seems to be the trend lately. We are so used to this now.

News of the massacre traveled like lightening via social media. Victims were tweeting as the gunman unleashed his fury on a sold-out movie theater. Unreal. I can’t wrap my brain around how instantaneous the news travels. Because of social media, the term “real time” has taken on a whole new meaning. Twitter’s instantaneous updates have created a whole different dynamic to major events, especially when tragedy strikes. If you Tweet, check out the trending topics #RIPJessica and #RIPAlexSullivan, see how the Twitter community is coming together to honor these fellow “tweeters.” @sully_2003 (Alex Sullivan) was celebrating his 27th birthday.

Sports journalist and social media enthusiast, Jessica Ghawi (@jessicaredfield), “Yankee born, Texas raised, and Colorado blooming,” was one of the victims. She tweeted right before the movie started, and that was her last interaction with Twitter world.  Jessica was a blogger, her last blog was about her near-to-death experience during the Toronto Eaton Centre’s shootings in June. Yeah, she was there…and she wrote about it.

 “I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting…”

I didn’t know her. But she was one hell of a journalist, and the world has been robbed of a beautiful and intelligent mind. Jessica’s blog has finally gone viral and has been shared over 14k times as of Friday via Facebook and Twitter. Consider it shared one more time today.

The victims…what happens to their digital footprints? Yes, can their loved ones delete evidence of existence? Yup. But often, they will live on. And I love that. Their writings, thoughts, feelings, pictures, memories, friends, and family…will have a place in this big cloud we call the Internet forever. They will remain the way we always remembered them. One of my high school friends died of cancer a couple years ago and his Facebook page is still up. We post on his wall all the time. It’s like he’s still there hangin’ with all of us. It’s an incredible display of continuing love, it’s comforting, and he will always live on.

This is just a side of social media I have never really thought about until now, when I read how many millions of times Jessica’s blog has been shared in less than 24 hours. She’s not here anymore, but her wit, sarcasm, and beautiful writing is still here for everyone to enjoy. Just a thought I wanted to share. My condolences go out to all affected.

“I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.” #RIPJessica

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11 thoughts on “Social Media and Tragedy

    1. Hi Tiffany- Thanks so much for sharing that article. It’s an interesting topic I often think about… ha, is that weird? This unfortunate event really got me thinking. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Hi Matt! Thanks for stopping by, glad you liked the article. This subject was something that I had thought about before, and what happened in CO really got thinking- had to get my thoughts out and publish!

  1. Great post Kristin. My grandfather wrote almost daily in journals and I remember spending hours reading them a few years ago when my grandmother showed them to me. It gave me such a better understanding of who he was (he passed away when I was 4). I like to think he would have been a blogger, and now that I think about it, he’s probably the reason I became one.

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