Shared Grief Through The Internet

I was checking out the new social media-ized USA Today yesterday when the incredible numbers from the Virgina Tech massacre started flashing. From then on I was glued to the computer for dribbling details, any images, any words that could patch this tragedy together and give it some perspective.

An ABC affilate in Virginia had a live broadcast feed so I experienced the redundant tragedy-hype of Anchors trying to fill space, ”worst ever … ” “shock, horror, disbelief” until there were details but they never seemed to come.  The network websites have developed into fairly decent TV surrogates with the added features of message boards, polls, photos. USA Today has seen its registrations increase 380% since it added blogs, user comments, and enhanced user profiles last month. 

Virginia Tech shooterThe cell phone video with crackling gunfire in the background was a central captivating video on most news sites. Then there were the queries on Facebook, the hundreds of comments that were the ache of people alone, needing to express grief and shock, even if it was one of many and went out to an unknown audience you will never meet. And then we see the picture of the shooter. He’s just a kid.

Even words seem false. It is like Oklahoma City or Columbine, when you feel the enemy within. There is nobody to lash out at, nowhere to put your anger. Last night I walked around Columbia University campus, a place I feel is my querencia, a power spot I can claim to connect and re-spark. But there were dark corners on campus last night and it did not seem so safe.

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