As the nation mourns the tragic events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut earlier this week several people have turned to Facebook and Twitter as an outlet for grief.
Our hearts are broken for you, Newtown.
— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) December 14, 2012
There are just no words. Only sorrow. We are all shedding tears today for those families.
— christina applegate (@1capplegate) December 14, 2012
Kara Ayers at Psych Central writes that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have become common places for communities to gather after tragic events. In the past, people may have gathered at the homes of neighbors to find solace and comfort. And although that does still happen (candlelight vigils have been scheduled at the White House and at cities around the country) many people have turned to social media as an outlet for grief.
“Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites can serve as the world’s barometer for emotion. They can also be valid vehicles for grief. It’s not uncommon for people to desire to commune in response to the anxiety, despair, fear, and sadness elicited by tragedies. Previous generations rushed to the homes of neighbors and churches after learning of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Many Americans today would have sought solace from the warm glow of a screen.”
Mourning on social media may have its physical limitation but it also greatly expands the community of mourners. People can find comfort in the words of celebrities, politicians or athletes and can get updates from reporters and news stations.
Shortly after news broke that 27 people, mostly students, had been killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the White House posted a video on Twitter of the President addressing the nation.
— The White House (@whitehouse) December 14, 2012
Of course, Twitter isn’t solely reserved as a place for the internet community to collectively grieve. As many people found out last night, Twitter was also the setting for an intense debate about gun control.