At the midnight showing of one of this summer’s most anticipated movies, “The Dark Knight Rises” a gunman dressed in body armor entered a theater in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd killing 12 and injuring over 50 others.
Frantic YouTube videos show people screaming and crying, some of them bloodied, as they rushed out of the Century 16 Theater. Twitter posts from dozens of the theatergoers provided a timeline of the shocking and horrific event, in real time. Websites, television networks, and cable news channels relayed details of the tragedy based on these and other firsthand accounts shared via social media.
This shooting is the most recent instance of social media being used to document a news event as it unfolded. These posts are a testament to the power of first-person accounts of tragedy and that society deals with the associated grieving in a much more public and immediate way than it did before. Such reports were more typically made by actual reporters who arrived on the scene to speak to witnesses. Now witnesses can instantly upload their stories to the internet with their mobile phones.
It’s true that firsthand eyewitness accounts given during a news event can be powerful as they are unfiltered and as “in the heat of the moment” as can be. But do we trust the public to bring us the news?
Officials also turned to the internet and social media. The Red Cross encouraged witnesses to tell loved ones that they were alright via sites like Facebook and Twitter, and the city of Aurora used its Facebook page to offer sympathy to victims and their families.
I am far from being a comic book or superhero enthusiast, but am a huge fan of the Christopher Nolan re-imagining of the Batman franchise, disturbed by the shooting. As such, I felt compelled to do a little more digging on the subject. There were related articles I found interesting.
Why did this happen?? The suspected gunman, James Holmes, now in police custody, left no clues online as to his potential motives or mental state. He had no Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Myspace accounts under his name. Interesting. Thoughts?
A Twitter based social media campaign that stemmed from a Facebook post calls for “Dark Knight Rises” star Christian Bale to come to Aurora and visit injured children while wearing his Batman costume. The Oscar-winning actor has issued a statement regarding the tragedy but has yet to respond to this campaign…