The Internet Responds to Shooting Rampage - Virginia Tech Students and Friends Speak Out

BlogHer Original Post

The Internet has indisputably changed the way people around the world can respond to events both large and small, and in the case of the murders at Virginia Tech, the voices are myriad and heartfelt. In the hours since the shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 32 people have since been confirmed dead, with more than 20 others still being treated at local hospitals.

I'm a college professor, the godmother of an 18-year-old bound for Blacksburg in the fall, a friend of two Hokie parents and cousin to two more current students. But it's the simple fact that I'm a breathing, feeling human being that gives me a strong interest in what VT students have to say about their experience in the wake of the worst shooting in United States history.

Social networking can get a bad rap in the context of its inherent possible dangers for young people. Still it appears that when tragedy strikes, its powers can be used equally for good. Its ability to expand the reach of students who communicate their thoughts and actions on a daily basis becomes especially powerful when the news is more important, and as in this case, painful.

The Washington Post has an active Va. Tech Shooting Blog Roundup, with excerpts from the writings of many of the University's students. Bryce aka "ntcoolfool" has been updating his LiveJournal all day. (Thanks also to LizDitz and the ever-vigilant Professor Kim for referring us to his site, among others.) As of 4:51 p.m. today, he'd gotten a taste of media attention and wasn't altogether comfortable with it.

As distant sirens continue sporadically , I find myself removed in my room with no TV. I watched President Bush’s address earlier and was surprised at how calm I was. I didn’t have the adrenaline or goose bumps that I thought I would. I just watched as he talked about the tragedy that has occurred here at Virginia Tech. I still am removed and isolated.

As this blog has received international attention, I find myself wondering what the world has come to. The media watch dogs, no offense, have jumped on this story and on me for, as one anonymous user said, ‘exploit my emotions’. At this time I do not believe this is so, because to put it simply: I’m willing to share my experience. This is nothing special. I don’t deserve any credit. I went to class as any other student would. I just happened to be on the other side of campus when the shots were fired later in the day. But isn’t that just it? What is remarkable about this story is that this is the story of an average student at this great school. Stories of horror, bloodshed, and death are soon to come from the victims of this horrible catastrophe and the limelight will shine onwards, for that is what the public thirsts for.

For those that are interested, I will write a more complete narrative of my experiences of today later, once the media frenzy has died down and I have a minute to better reflect. As of the time I am writing this I have done a radio interview with BBC and talked with a reporter from the LA Times. CBC Newsworld, the Boston Herald, Current TV, and MTV have asked for interviews and further information. As I said I intend to share my experiences with everyone, but I want to reinstate that I am just an average student and I don’t want to be made into something I am not.

Tech student JadeDiva made some earlier posts friends-only in response to unpleasant comments, but added:

It doesn't matter what happened to me, since I'm safe and in complete shock at what happened. Please keep the Tech community in your thoughts as we attempt to make it through the rest of the year. I can't even begin to comprehend what happened, especially with the timeline we're being given which doesn't match up with what I remember happening.

Thank you to all outside the Virginia Tech community who have expressed their concern. Thank you to my el-jay friends who have reached out.

The Hampton-Roads Daily Press also posted a round-up of Internet postings from Tech students. Livejournal posts can be organized by school, and fifteen pages of LJ's associate themselves with the Blacksburg area.

Butter Bean Bouquet posted:

I'm OK [16 Apr 2007|04:39pm]
Don't know if everyone has heard about the shootings on Virginia Tech campus.
I am OK and everyone I know is OK.
I still can't believe this has happened here.
You think you are safe in rural southwest Virginia.

I was safe in the GLC today and our building was on lockdown.

I have a feeling this will all hit me later.

Social networking site Myspace is used overwhelmingly by high school and college students. Virginia Tech's Myspace message board, as well as links to the pages of alumni and current students, is located here.

More than 500 groups on Facebook" reference Virginia Tech, and many students have replaced their icon photos with a VT memorial ribbon.

[img_assist|fid=3660|thumb=1|alt=VTechRibbon]

Although some of the groups were certainly formed before today, several on the first couple of pages reference the shooting, including three along with the name "Always Remember Virginia Tech." Most of the groups were formed on other campuses around the country, and included some such as "New Yorkers Send Prayers to Those Who Passed at Virginia Tech" and "Kentucky Mourns for Virginia Tech.

The group "A tribute to those who passed at the Virginia Tech Shooting," which currently has 62,356 members, encourages all to wear maroon and orange tomorrow in a day of remembrance, and quotes, "Forget any and all college affiliations today. For today, we are all Hokies." This group has even designated an AIM chat name of TodayWeAreAllHokies, telling students to

type in the name of the chat @ the chat and just join if you want to vent etc..

Student Jess Murzewski from Erie Community College posted:

I made a group because I think we should have a national day (or night) where all campuses should stop and pause to remember tragedies that happen on campus and to try to think of ways to stop/prevent them from happening.

Christie Behring from St. Catharine's/Niagara, Ontario wrote:

I'm from southern Ontario and this has shocked me to the core as a fellow student...I cry as I write this, I think this is the worst tragedy of my lifetime. In a campus just like mine, in classrooms just like mine, something unthinkable has happened.

We love you, we think of you, please stay strong and brave.

The ABC News roundup of Facebook comments included the following from VT engineering student Gina Om:

I was just really scared because Norris Hall is the building where I have all my classes, my department. It's kinda surreal because I've always thought Virginia Tech was extremely safe, one of the reasons that I considered to come to the school. It's hard to believe and sad that it happened at this school because it's a nice town.

Twitter, the exploding application that allows users to update their life and times minute to minute, is awash with thoughts related to the shootings. Blogher Contributing Editor Grace Davis has been sharing her updates all day. Plug "Virginia Tech" into Twitter Search, and you quickly learn that SchnellerKeller is heartsick, and Silverwind in Indonesia wishes "condolences and RIP." RescueSiren thanks God her daughter already graduated, and Zoe in Milan is watching the BBC News "in shock".

Myspace, Livejournal, and Facebook posts and comments will continue in the coming days. As victims are identified, families, friends, classmates, and communities will share the incalculable loss of more than thirty lives, and the growing online memorial will continue to extend far beyond the borders of Blacksburg.

Contributing Editor Laurie White blogs at lauriewrites and posts photos on Flickr.

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