Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why A Vigil To Remember A Tragedy?

Vigil according to Wikipedia is an outdoor assembly of people, held after sunset. The definition continues with it can be held in protest or in memory of lives lost to tragedy.

After the horrific plane crash that occured in Austin, Texas last week, a few of us decided to host a vigil tomorrow evening. Our goal is to remember those who lost their lives as well as to show those left behind and those affected by the event that we are here to support them.

It's both a sad and controversial disaster and the opinions abound on all sides.

I called Lani and Benn Rosales the day after the crash and told them how I thought that we as a social networking community should be the ones to step up and hold the vigil. Omar Gallaga, of the Austin American Statesman, is the one who put the idea in my head with his article titled, "Social media speeds up news-gathering in plane crash aftermath." (Steve Buttry posted a similar article dissecting how Twitter played a part in the event @statesman : A case study in using Twitter on breaking news)

For many people in Austin area, it was the first time since they'd joined the social networking community to experience the lightening fast speed that occurs when news travels via microblogging.

In January of 2008, when Twitter was a much smaller community many of us were affected by the death Ashley Spencer in Louisiana. People were chatting with her within the same hour that she died in a car wreck. Her Twitter stream went from vibrant and very alive to listless and dormant. Those of us who had become her virtual friends knew that Ashley was a new mom and looking forward to her military husband returning from overseas.

We grieved together online. Several people even traveled to her memorial service. It was shocking and sad and it moved us. An account where we could make monetary contributions was set up to be distributed to her surviving family.

This has obviously happened more than once over the years.

As a physical community it's easy to join together and grieve and be supportive of one another.

For those that are still new to online communities whether it's on Facebook or Twitter or other online sites it may seem weird at first to meet in person with the people that you only know in an online world.

For those of us who have been on Facebook or Twitter for a while it's actually quite normal. We love to get together for over coffee, to learn about new ideas over breakfast (Social Media Breakfast), to hang out in the evening over pizza (Social Media Club), to learn how how teachers teach in unconventional ways (Ignite Austin) or to come out and have a drink at a happy hour (Big Ass Twitter Happy Hour).

Attending those events are networking opportunities, fun times, and often times silliness abounds.

A vigil though? A vigil for a tragedy steeped in controversy started by a man who burned down his families home and killed another person, hospitalized people and traumitized countless others?

Yes. Sometimes we come together in a physical sense, take our relationships offline and share a quiet moment together. Tomorrow night we will do just that.
  • If you Tweeted about the event
  • If you sent an e-mail to others about the event
  • If you cross-posted a story about the event on your Facebook page
  • If you took a photo of the building and posted it to an online site
Then tomorrow's vigil is for you.

Join us and remember the tragedy of a husband lost, a family's home destroyed, a son who will never hear his military veteran father's laugh again.

Join us to show your neighbors who officed in the Echelon building and complex that you are here for them, to listen to them and to console them when they are awake for hours on end because of nightmares they have from being in the building.

Join us for a moment of silence at sunset on Research Boulevard in front of Manny Hattens in the large grassy area as we look across to the building as it stands a week after the Austin, Texas Plane Crash.

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