Examining shooting response in social media

Dec 14, 2012

The shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut has generated massive responses on social media sites.

Professor of media at St. John Fisher College, Tom Proietti, says while social media is a good outlet for grief, support, or anger in a situation like this, it is not necessarily the place to go for information.

“I think it’s really important for all of us to know that most of what we see on social media is highly emotional in nature and not necessarily fact checked.”

Proietti says sites like Twitter can be a good space for people to vent about disasters like the elementary school shooting, but there also needs to be awareness that it is not a news site.

However, he says these sites can also provide some useful content in terms of how to deal with trauma and grief.

He says one of the first tweets he saw after the shooting contained a link for parents on how to talk to their kids after an experience like this.

"There are very, very helpful tips available coming out of social media, you know on Twitter, on Facebook, and even on Pinterest. This event has kind of consumed social media."

Proietti says the presence of social media is becoming more noticeable in reactions to tragedies like the Connecticut shootings, but he doesn’t really know what impact it has long term.

“Social media is so new and we’re so early on into the frontier of what social media can and cannot do. I’m not sure what kind of a long term impact it will have on us as human beings, whether it exaggerates situations like this and makes us even sadder, or if it helps us cope. I’m not sure.”

Proietti says the avenue for emotional venting is one of the strength of social media, but he says if emotions get out of control, it can become a distressing for some.