It’s no secret that college students live their lives online. So, when tragedy struck Virginia Tech’s campus last week, Facebook.com and other online forums became a primary method for students to ask questions, express reactions and grieve. All in all, five instructors and 27 students, many of them undergraduates with an active online presence, were murdered.
The event brought out all manner of responses. At first, social networking sites were used as a gathering space among campuses to check in and make sure Hokie friends survived the attacks. Around here, ‘Hoos started shedding the state rivalry, dropping memberships in groups like “Virginia Tech was my safety school” and changing their “profile” pictures to banners that showed the UVA and Virginia Tech logos united together.
Finally, as the death toll mounted and names of the victims were released, memorial groups became a popular, if strange, way to say goodbye. (Comments have been edited.)—with additional reporting by Stephanie Woods and Kyle Daly
From Facebook group Hoos Reaching out to Hokies: Cavs and Hokies Unite
Dustin Hardstock (UVA) at 5:46pm on April 16
What a horrible event. My thoughts and prayers go out to entire Virginia Tech community. I’m glad that Wahoos are willing to support them, and I hope that more will continue to do so. We’re humans first, Virginians second, and rivals a very distant third. Get well, Hokies. Our condolences go out to you.
Jonah Cruz Santiago (UVA) at 8:29pm on April 16
RIP Ryan Clark aka Stack
From Facebook group Hoos Reaching out to Hokies
Ben Evans (UVA) at 5:46pm on April 17
I wore a VT sweatshirt today. A lot of people thought it was a classy move. I just wanted to let all the Hokies out there that this ‘Hoo (and all the others) have their back in this time of need.
Mike Buck (Virginia Tech) at 6:47pm on April 17
Hoos – I can not tell members of my family about the painted wall without breaking down. Thank you for your tremendous show of support.
From Facebook group Hoos for Hokies
Lashonda Thigpen (UVA) at 7:07pm on April 17
I feel so empty…
Amber Courselle (UVA) at 8:45am on April 17
I saw on the news this morning that they need candles for their vigils. Perhaps you should send whatever you have down there instead of having your own—the student body president said they expected 40K people at theirs…
From Facebook group In Memory of Jarrett Lee Lane
Ashley Johnson (Virginia Tech) at 4:47pm on April 20
Jarrett! I miss you keeping me and Lori company in studio, 1am, 2am, it didn’t matter to you. You brought us food, you helped us finish our projects. You made us laugh when were too exhausted to think. And I know you secretly thought my puppy was amazing, even though you pretended to not be impressed. I’ll never forget…we love you, Jarrett. Always a hokie 🙂
From Facebook group In Memory of Jeremy Herbstritt-11/6/79-4/16/07
Dean M. Shetayh (Allentown, PA) at 7:01pm on April 19
Jeremy, What’s up old roomie? You remember the Graduate and how much damn fun we used to have! …You were such an amazing guy, always willing to drop what you were doing to make everyone else happy. All my friends from back home who used to come up and party all felt so terrible and they could not believe it. I miss you bro..your in the hands of the LORD now..and you will be looking down on us..God Bless You.. and your FAMILY. I love ya bro.
From Facebook group Lauren McCain beat me to heaven
Phillip Zeller (Virginia Tech) at 12:21pm on April 20
Lauren, I loved you and I’m looking forward to seeing you again. It looks like you found another way to beat 🙂
From Facebook group R.I.P. Caitlin Hammaren
Paul Alexander (SIU Carbondale) at 1:32pm on April 19
If someone can let me know when Caitlin’s funeral is i would appreciate it because I intend to go to it in Virginia.
From Facebook group R.I.P. Austin Michelle Cloyd
Sidney Sheehan (DePaul) at 12:48pm on April 20
austin, i hope you can check your facebook in heaven.