Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Blogging during a crisis....

I've previously mentioned the power of blogs during times of catastrophic events and trauma such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Tragically, we can now link the significance of blog communication to yesterday's Virginia Tech massacre.

Students locked down in dorm rooms relied on the Internet as their only source of communication. Click here to read the correspondence between a current student who was trying to obtain information and those who wanted to offer words of support. I would imagine that this dialogue was a source of some comfort. Simultaneously, others turned to blogs to write down their thoughts, concerns, and to inform loved ones of their safety. Click on this link to find out how a Fox station in Kansas City even hosted a chat session with Va Tech students and created a page for citizens to convey their condolences. As you probably know by now, friends of those killed have set up memorials on Facebook and this ongoing dialogue allows us all to connect with victims in a raw, real way.

How Media are Evolving

In this article, Dan Gillmor discusses how the course of events yesterday show us how the media "shift" from old school media such as newspapers and television has evolved to newer, faster, not to mention more personal methods of communication like cell phone videos and blogs.

Any average Joe with a computer and some time has the opportunity to hear primary-source accounts of the events rather than waiting for the news media to process packages and relay information second-hand. We have access to gut-wrenching tales of sorrow, despair, relief and shock like never before. And this is just the beginning.

Now I realize my blog purpose is to find out the potential for technology to improve writing and you might suggest that this conversation has nothing to do with writing skills....well, I have to argue that when you're writing about the most poignant, heartfelt, disturbing moments in your life, there has to be a level of growth as a writer. These students are simply going someplace with words that they have probably never ventured before.

The dialogue between Va Tech students and the rest of the world is in its infancy. One local news station said that blogs are serving as a sort of therapy for many affected students and staff. I'm not so sure as to its potential in that arena, but I pray they are right. We shall see in the near future. On a personal note, my thoughts are with the entire Virginia Tech community, including those involved or affected by this tragedy. I wish I could express my feelings of sadness at the loss of such precious life, such potential, but to be honest, sometimes words just are not enough.


Ann V. said...


Every time I hear a news story about this tragedy my eyes tear up and my kids, who are very little, ask what's wrong. How do you explain that as a parent, you cannot imagine the grief the parents, families and friends of these people are going through. I can't imagine if something horrible like that happened to my children, or to me, leaving my children motherless. It makes me feel guilty for every moment I said "Mommy has to study, work, whatever...Can't play right now." Many of the faculty killed may have said the same thing the night before without any inkling that something so horrible was waiting around the corner. Certainly those young people with their whole lives in front of them never dreamed going to class would put them in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I think the blogging is therapeutic and powerful. They don't even have to write anything. Just reading the thoughts and prayers of those who are posting has to be cathartic. It gives those who are not directly involved in the incident, but who still feel that they would like to offer their sympathy a way to feel a connection.

On a much different note, I don't know if you have taken a class with her, but one of my classmates in my practicum class has a fabulous website with links to some blogging projects she is working on. Check it out at www.christinalambard.com.


Crystal Crozier said...

I still can't fathom the horrible tragedy that has befallen all the families of these young adults. How can someone do that? Like Ann, I feel guilty for telling my daughter I have to do homework or can't play. We are never promised another day.

In relation to your post, I put the words "Virginia tech tragedy" into the search bar at www.blogsearchengine.com and recieved almost 9000 entries. Blogging is apparently a very powerful medium for people to express their grief over this event.

It is amazing the amount of information people put out there for the whole world to see. I of course found entries expressing disbelief, grief, and numbness, but I also found entries of people empathizing with Cho Seung-Hui. I don't know that I could do that.

In the end, it does prove that blogging can be used for journaling purposes. I know there are still debates about whether or not this is appropriate, but I see it as a way for some to express emotions that they might otherwise keep bottled up inside of them, waiting for some little something to explode.

Richard Wells said...

Within every good there must exist some bad, and within every bad there must exist some good. Here's what I see:

Good: Perhaps more attention will be paid to those who require the attention.

Bad: This attention might take the form of Big Brother-like surveillance of anyone who has a mental disorder. There are "reports" that the killer may have had autism. Imagine the floodgates that is bound to open up in terms of stereotyping and profiling.

Good: Blogs have allowed people to communicate their most internal feelings. Such catharsis will help thousands to cope with the events at Virginia Tech.

Bad: With every catharsis there must come some hubris. The killer, posthumously, is getting the attention he so craved. Thousands of blogs, endless news stories, videos on YouTube. The killer will, without a doubt, have his name in a text-book one day. Surely someone else craving the same (or more) attention will act, perhaps even broadcasting or taping the killings as they occur.

So it is with technology and, really, everything in life. It is up to each of us individually to try to make sense of the senseless.