Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Using digital tools to mourn, support others

While Capital District residents have had some trying times lately as multiple tragedies struck the area, they've also shown us, and, in some cases, the nation, just how powerful they can be when they come together in support of each other.

Locals were first struck by the tragic news of a Dec. 1 highway crash which claimed the lives of area high school student athletes Deanna Rivers and Chris Stewart.

As area friends, classmates, and family members mourned, the community came together in a locally unprecedented, massive movement on social media asking professional athletes Tim Tebow and Missy Franklin to call surviving students Matt Hardy and Bailey Wind as they lay recovering in the hospital.

The effort when far beyond the Shenendehowa or Shaker school districts where the students were enrolled, their teammates, or even people who knew them directly. Accounts from across the area described just about everyone getting some kind of message on Twitter or through other means to retweet or pass along the message.

The hashtags #TebowCallMatt and #MissyCallBailey spread like wildfire on Twitter - so much so that the athletes actually responded, providing a small amount of joy to students who suffered a terrible loss and had only begun to start dealing with that fact.

The Record's own Laura Amato wrote her own post on the power of people in this situation and I'll refer to her for more on this amazing community outreach which stands as a great example of what these digital tools can be used for.

In a similar show of community support, residents of Mechanicville came together over the last week following the news that a local Marine serving in Afghanistan was killed in action.

We provided coverage of the return of Anthony Denier's body on The Record's Facebook page by posting photos from the receptions and motorcade transportation and instantly started getting feedback from community members wishing the family the best in these hard times, remembering Denier as they knew him and much more.

The album we posted was shared more than 40 times in the last 24 hours, and some photos went practically viral with more than 150 shares and 360 likes as they were spread by readers and community members - just another example of the great power of social media to connect people in need, whether for news and information, social interaction, or support in times of need.