Virginia Tech and New Media
19, April, 2007 4 Comments
There is no doubt that many have been affected by the shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech. Not another one? Not another student shooting case on campus? Not another case of the tragedy of easy access to firearms? Not another case of a misfit individual in society? These are the questions that will haunt society in the aftermath of one of the worst campus shooting cases in the US.
An interesting development is the role of new media in all this. With the sudden turn of events on campus and with many reeling from shock and confusion, new media has become a way for people to find out about what has been happening.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, before there was any news available from traditional channels of information, and instead of using traditional phone lines for fear of jamming them, and because they would be jammed, many students tried to find out if their campus friends were okay and what was happening on campus by logging on to the social networking sites like Facebook, blogs and websites.
People were getting first-hand accounts or recounts in blogs. New media also became a way for people to express their hurts and confusion. Apparently, a recording of the gunshots recorded by a student on his mobile phone has also become available on the Net. Such close-hand ‘reporting’ is not possible in such a situation something that traditional journalists can’t do. In the Straits Times article “Students turn to Net for information”, it was reported that Virginia Tech freshman, Bryce Carter hid in his dorm and “did what anyone his age would do in a time of crisis” – he blogged.
The Virginia Tech webpage has also become a Memoriam site of sorts, allowing people to read about the details of the event and sharing their thoughts and grief through a dedicated memorial link. You can even listen to the podcast and get a transcript of the address made at the memorial service. I think all these links help people to be closer to the situation, and in so doing, perhaps provides a channel for airing their thoughts and emotions. Importantly, there are also crisis hotlines available to provide counselling for those in need.
It’s indeed a sad day when an individual is so alienated that he turns on society in such a cold and brutal way, and it’s a sad day that following the massacre, threats of copycat killings surfaced in several states in the US. It’ll be a sadder day if there is a backlash against South Koreans (the nationality of the shooter). Already, the South Korean government is warning of possible repercussions.
Many are trying to come to terms with the situation, and there are many who have taken a look at what’s been happening at the Virginia Tech massacre and other similar incidents. Let’s hope that something good will come out of this. Something good must come out of this.
New Media seems to be playing a pivotal role so far in allowing people to make connections and communicate and seek catharsis of sorts for their grief. If only Cho Seung-Hui, the gunman, would have made use of it earlier.