Social networking sites help students cope - 1000-plus online groups created after VA Tech massacre

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Social networking sites help students cope - 1000-plus online groups created after VA Tech massacre

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Issue date: 4/19/07 Section: News
By Alyssa S. Navares
Ka Leo Managing Editor

More than 1,000 Facebook groups and MySpace pages started in response to Monday's deadly shooting, some supporting victims and others blaming 23-year-old gunman Cho Seung-Hui.

Blogs and social network sites have changed ways of communicating and coping with tragedy, as younger generations use the Internet to discuss and to express feelings about the massacre. On many pages, people have removed their profile photos and replaced them with a black ribbon and Virginia Polytechnic University logo.

Thousands of miles from Blacksburg, VA, University of Hawai'i at M?noa students recognized the online mourning by adding the UH logo and the phrase, "All One Ohana. Today, we are all Hokies" to the profile photo. UHM alum Gary McRawr and sociology major Milena Kulig created separate Facebook groups, both of which have more than 200 members.

"I'm hoping to get UH alums and current students [and] faculty involved," McRawr said, "and possibly even the community colleges across the state to be aware of the situation." McRawr started the group "UH is praying for Virginia Tech" the day 32 people and the gunman were killed, becoming the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

Thirty people joined Kulig's group, "UH Manoa Supports Virginia Tech," within the first five minutes of creating it Monday evening, and by Tuesday it had grown to more than 200 members. Kulig started the group after joining one from another school and realizing that UHM did not have one.

"The turnout is way better than I thought it would be," she said. "Honestly, I was just thinking that a few people who were as shocked and saddened by the situation like I was would join."

Other people have used these social networks to vent about the shooting and its killer. More than 200 online groups on both Facebook and MySpace started in response to the Virginia Tech senior and immigrant from South Korea. Virginia Tech students described him as a loner who said little.

"He should of just shot himself and not killed anyone, but no, he had to make everyone suffer," wrote Cory Hills, a student from Wellsville Senior High School in New York, in the "I Hope Cho Seung-Hui Burns in Hell" group.

Racist remarks about Cho appeared throughout online blogs and social sites in response to his South Korean ethnicity. Some bloggers called him "a Kim Chee eating mofo," while others referred to him as a "slanted eye freak."

But having a negative reaction after a tragedy is typical, according to the American Psychological Association. University psychologists nationwide created a Web site with advice on how to cope with the Virginia Tech shooting.

Negative viewpoints should be balanced to maintain a healthier perspective of one's self and the world, the APA Web site states.

In Facebook group "Cho Seung-Hui is pure evil," Tennessee Brentwood High School student Leigh Durham was the first out of the 85 members to comment in support of Cho, sparking crude remarks from others in the group.

"How about people stop focusing on this guy and think about all the people that were affected by this," she wrote on the posting wall. "Wasting your time bashing this guy isn't going to make things any better."

One student from Drexel University in Pennsylvania called Durham a moron and an idiot an hour after she posted her comment.

Asking for support, online or in-person, can be comforting and helps because speaking with others who share similar experiences prevents feelings of loneliness, according to the APA site.

Because cellphone networks, like Verizon Wireless, became stressed hours after the shooting, people shifted to the Internet. Virginia Tech students created an "I'm ok at VT" group in Facebook, which included a list of murdered and injured victims. The West Virginia Blogger compiled personal sites for those killed as an online memorial. Others traded photos and videos online as well.



Online networks related to Virginia shooting


Facebook - about 450 groups
"UH M?noa supports Virginia Tech"
"Cho Seung-Hui is pure evil"


MySpace - about 550 sites
www.myspace.com/thehokies
www.myspace.com/virginiatechshooting


Blogs - about 350 sites
The West Virginia Blogger: www.bloggingwv.com
Virginia Tech Blog: www.VTtragedy.com

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Original Source: The Voice - Ka Leo
<a href="http://media.www.kaleo.org/media/storage/paper872/news/2007/04/19/News/Social.Networking.Sites.Help.Students.Cope-2869752.shtml">http://media.www.kaleo.org/media/storage/paper872/news/2007/04/19/News/Social.Networking.Sites.Help.Students.Cope-2869752.shtml</a>

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Alyssa S. Navares

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2008-03-12

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Kacey Beddoes

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Kumari Sherreitt <editor@kaleo.org>

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eng

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Alyssa S. Navares, "Social networking sites help students cope - 1000-plus online groups created after VA Tech massacre," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1817, http://april16archive.org/items/show/1817 (accessed October 21, 2014).