Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Social Media Spread the Word

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Social Media Spread the Word

Article excerpt

"I am one of the 50 wounded in the aurora theater shooting. here are a few photos of my very lucky but nonetheless terrifying brush with death. my thoughts go out to those less fortunate than me."

So went the message posted on social media site Reddit around 7 a.m. EDT by Chris Rapoza of Brooklyn, N.Y., who also linked to three photos he posted on photo-sharing site imgur.com. With a few clicks on their smart phone or other Internet device, his followers were viewing photos showing pierced skin on his back and a bloody shirt caused by a bullet that grazed him in the midst of the chaotic shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., early Friday.

The photos quickly inspired thousands of follow-up comments on Reddit, with one poster -- perhaps a victim herself, saying she "now knows what tear gas feels like" and adding, "I need an army of kitten photos stat" -- referring to a popular internet diversion.

The mayhem in Aurora was one of the first large-scale tragedies to take place in the U.S. since social-media sites like Reddit and imgur, and their better-known competitors like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, have become a fixed point in the mass-communication universe. Their immediacy and other benefits were on full display Friday, as were their disadvantages.

In some cases, what they supplied was gut-wrenching in its intimacy. "Caitlin" used Twitter to provide a running account of the madness inside the theater, taking the time to code her dispatches with the lexicon of that medium: "shots fired in the theater #batman #aurora #colorado," as soon as the shootings occurred. In the next two hours, Caitlin posted five messages, including "Oh, God, I don't know what to do" "Alex is still missing" and "Everybody please pray for my friend Alex."

About 12 hours after the shooting and another dozen tweets and retweets later -- including several dismissing requests by media members for interviews -- Caitlin responded, "No new information yet" on her friend. …

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