Tuesday’s Tech Take: Small Communities Still Matter in Social Media

candle vigil

Too often, when we think of top trends, we think of viewers across the world who tweet every single detail of the year’s Super Bowl. The game, the failed opportunities, the commercials, the halftime performance, everything. So it often goes without saying that only the Beliebers, the sports fanatics, and the Kate Middleton stalkers have the power to affect Twitter in real time on any given day. Because they’re everywhere, and they mean business when it comes to top trends.

Today, though, I want to write about how we’re wrong about this. It’s hard for me to go into specifics, but because of a tragedy that happened in my hometown in upstate New York this past weekend, I’m moved to write about how the community in the place that I grew up has responded to a drunk driving accident that killed 2 seniors from my high school, and seriously wounded 2 other teenagers– 1 from my high school, and 1 from a high school in the next town over.

It’s devastating. My mother has worked at my high school from the time I was 5 years old, and she had to go into the school on Monday and face the students who were friends with the victims. And had to find a way to stay strong throughout the day. I can’t imagine what that was like. I can’t imagine what anything like this is like to the victims’ families and friends, as well as all loved ones of any drunk driving victim.

But I can’t help admiring how the media from my hometown, the kids I used to go to school with there, and people who haven’t thought about our their days at that school in years have so gracefully come together to heal through this tragedy.

Naturally, I found out about it via Facebook. Soon enough, the Facebook pages created for the 2 deceased victims had thousands of likes, and the updates from them have continued to be a source of loving notes from alumni of all ages and from parents and others in the community nearly 24/7. It’s also been a source for friends of the victims to remember them by sharing photos, to collaborate with other students to wear the school’s color green to classes the next day, and to spread media coverage.

The best came last night, when after a valiant effort from everyone in the community who is on Twitter, they got #tebowcallmatt trending, and NFL Jets Quarterback, Tim Tebow, called one of the surviving victims, and later tweeted about speaking with him. Other efforts were also pushed and #daleycallbailey trended in the US, as the same people, most of who I grew up with as a little kid, and their younger siblings pushed to have Olympic US Diver Tom Baley call the other surviving victim.

And the outpouring of love on my news feeds demonstrating how my hometown is working together to heal and look ahead of this tragedy is something I just can’t get over. I’m so moved by it all.

But really, I just can’t believe that a small town, my hometown, where I learned to tie my shoes, play softball, drive a car, and so much more made this happen. And is continuing to make things like this happen through social media. The people of my hometown are making small communities the exception to the rule that large fandoms are necessary for making a difference on our social platforms. Something of which I’m really proud of.

RIP Chris and Deanna.



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About the author: Kimberly Engel

Hailing from America, Kimberly is a recent graduate of Fordham University, who has lived in New York her entire life. She spends most of her time in confliction because of her obsession with technology, especially Netflix, but also her desire to prevent Orwell's 1984 from coming true in this lifetime and the next. You can follow her on twitter @kengel

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