Online World Grieves for Va. Tech
It comes as no surprise that grieiving Virginia Tech students turned to the Internet to cope with Monday's events, and it's probably even less surprising that the public went online to keep tabs on what was happening on campus.
When phone lines went unanswered and e-mail was down in Blacksburg, students reached out through the social networking sites that have become such ubiquitous fixtures of campus communication. Students joined an "I'm OK" group on Facebook to inform friends and family of their status.
Online traffic to the Virginia Tech Facebook Web site increased 550 percent on Monday compared to Sunday traffic, and it was 407 percent higher than the previous Monday, according to Hitwise, a company that measures Web traffic.
People set up sites and blogs to stay in touch. This Washington D.C. Blog created a feed for people to share new information or show their support.
My 21-year-old brother, who has friends who go to Virginia Tech, said he was constantly checking instant messenger away messages to confirm that his friends were OK. He told me that he knew that was the fastest way to find out if something had happened to them.
My own friends on Facebook have littered their profiles with VT logos and graphics of black ribbons, and I've been invited to join about two dozen different groups that have formed with names like: "DC area VT Alumni United" and "Hokies Together, United and Strong." And I'm not even a Hokie.
A profile that calls itself the "Official Virginia Tech MySpace Page" is full of condolences offered by fans and non-fans alike. More than 7,650 people have listed themselves as friends on that page.
Looks like these online hangouts are more than just ways to exchange gossip and post photos after all.
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