On Sept. 11, 2001, I woke up to my clock radio alarm, already tuned to the college radio station, WSBU. Normally, a morning dj played music, but instead I heard my assistant news director talking about planes hitting the World Trade Center.
On July 20, 2012, I woke up, picked up my Droid phone and took a glance at Twitter (it’s a bad morning habit, that I’ve been intending to break). Here is where I saw the hashtags #theatershooting #aurora #batmanshooting. Once again, I was astonished and saddened, twelve years later, through a different form of technology.
It’s no secret that much of the public gets its breaking news alerts now through social media, mainly Twitter. Whether it’s the death of Whitney Houston or Osama Bin Laden, or who has won the Superbowl, it’s the fastest and generally reliable news source (ex. NOT Gotye’s apparent death).
The difference in this news story shows in the TYPES of posts that can be found on social media after/during a shooting. Some of the “firsts” I experienced this morning:
Gunshot wounds from a victim via Reddit:
One of the victims of the Aurora DKR shootings just posted pics to Reddit… crazy (blood warning) imgur.com/a/vtMhj
— Tim Pool (@Timcast)July 20, 2012
Seeing a dead victim’s last Twitter post, 20 minutes before the movie began:
One of those murdered in the theater was @JessicaRedfield. A funny Texas girl who was making her way in sports. A damn waste.
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle)July 20, 2012
These types of uses of social media allow us to really get inside the story, things news could not do before. However chilling, it does provide users with more information.
Opportunities and Positives
Social media also provides such tragedies with great opportunities for increased communication and outreach.
One of the most extensive ways to follow this story, is to actually follow the Aurora police department on Twitter.
If you so choose, you can follow the @AuroraPD for the latest updates on the Colorado/Movie Theater shooting.
— Stephon Johnson (@StephonJohnson8)July 20, 2012
The best use of social media for this tragedy is also the ability to instruct people on where to reach out. @Mediabistro posted this today:
— mediabistro.com (@Mediabistro)July 20, 2012
As always Mashable brings us the most thorough roundup of how events play out online. To get a full timeline of how users documented the tragedy, check out their latest:
Above all, we hope we don’t have to view any such disasters online. My thoughts are with the victims and their families, as well as the wounded and frightened. Just go online, we are all here for you.