After Sandy Hook, Social Media Bonds Us All

5 years ago

Over dinner last night, we were telling our kids what life was like before cell phones and email accounts, before Twitter and Facebook. They were laughing as we mimicked the sounds the modem made as it dialed into the Internet and talked about ways we got around the high payment for long-distance calls.

But in the back of my mind, I was thinking about how isolating it was before we were hyperconnected. Things happened and it could take hours or days before you could connect with the person. You paced around the house, from room to room, desperate for information with no way to get it. As much as I complain about connectivity sometimes, the Internet not only provided information last Friday after the events at Newtown, but it brought comfort and kind words of support from all corners of the earth.

© Nicolaus Czarnecki/

The story of VDog immediately comes to mind.  She tweeted after the first bits of news went out about the shooting, waiting for word from her sister-in-law as to the status of her nieces and nephew. Her nephew, Noah Pozner, was killed in the attack. Not only did friends as well as strangers step in to provide the family with food and words of comfort, but friends have set up a Facebook page (which is also on Kaiser Mommy's blog) outlining ways people can help, especially in paying the funeral expenses. They've also gathered on Twitter under the hashtag #LoveForNoah.

Moreover, VDog's sister-in-law asked for letters that she could bury with her son. According to Jewish law, he needed to be buried as soon as possible, and there were few options to get the cards there in time. VDog and her friends asked a few carriers via Twitter if they would step up and help get the handmade cards and letters to the family in time for the funeral since VDog couldn't attend the service. JetBlue immediately jumped in due to the tweets and offered to fly the cards across the country to Connecticut.

Beyond reaching out to VDog and her family, friends are working to keep Noah Pozner -- and all the people lost -- on the forefront of people's minds, reminding people the important people from this event rather than the shooter.

Dyke in the Heart of Texas has a beautiful tribute to Noah Pozner. Her reason for writing it comes from a realization that came to her as she watched the coverage.

A news reporter prompted me to write this blog on this very sad Sunday. He looked into the camera and asked if the viewers remember the killers’ name in the Columbine killings of 13 years ago. Two names quickly came to my mind, which I refuse to put in this blog. The reporter then asked if I, the viewer, remembered just ONE of the victims’ names at Columbine. My stomach tightened and I felt personal disgust, at the realization that I could not come up with a name. Then it hit me, that is the ONE reason this American shame continues.

She challenges readers to stop focusing on the killer and the coverage of his life and instead think about the victims, committing their names and faces to memory. I too decided to always remember Noah Pozner, as a fellow twin mother, and I will always hold his surviving sister in my heart.

Whiskey in My Sippy Cup remembers the aftermath of Columbine, which happened a few miles from her town. Her heart went out to the people of Newtown, not realizing how close the events would hit until her friend lost her nephew, Noah Pozner. She urges readers not to think of the events as something that has happened to someone else, but something that has happened in our world, in this enormous community that each of us are part of in the collective whole of society.

Carrian of Oh Sweet Basil today led a movement called "Blogging Day of Remembrance," in which many DIY, lifestyle, food and craft bloggers posted a graphic in place of their scheduled content. The graphic reads in part:

To honor the memory of lives cut short, we choose to step away from our blogs and computers today to celebrate the gift of life and those we love most: our children, families, good friends, and community.

You can grab the image here, and read a bit more about it on Carrian's Facebook page.

Karen of Playful Planet is organizing a virtual prayer vigil for the survivors for 5 minutes beginning at 9:36 a.m. EST on Friday, December 21, 2012. Read more about it on the Facebook page.

Life According to Julie is working to raise money via her blog for the family of Benjamin Wheeler, another child lost at Sandy Hook. She learned of his death through another blogger who is friends with Benjamin's mother. The money raised will pay for the funeral expenses, and it has come from all over the world; people wanting to do something to help.

We could focus on the killer, but I implore you not to. Instead, focus on those lost in the tragedy, as well as those who have stepped in with action and kind words. In the wise words of Mr. Rogers,

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers –- so many caring people in this world.

There were so many helpers, so many caring people, lighting the way in a very dark period of time. Our hearts are all with the people of Newtown, with the families grieving today.

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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