Last week, America woke up on Friday morning to the news that a grotesque crime had been committed in Colorado. Yesterday, the alleged youth responsible for the mass murder was arraigned and appeared before a judge as well as families of his victims and the entirety of America during the televised court appearance.
It seems that after a tragedy of this magnitude occurs, the one thing that people are waiting to hear on every news program, from every official is what happened to motivate this kind of atrocious and unfathomable behavior. And that answer is usually a long time coming (if it comes at all). Officials have said that it could take months to find out what Holmes’ motive was.
But in those first few hours that the shooting was taking place, the reason didn’t yet matter to the people who were glued to their news sources looking to read details about what was occurring in Aurora. While every local and national news station was covering the news, however, one of the leading sources of up-to-the-minute reports came through Reddit.
Reddit, which is referred to as the front page of the internet is an online content platform where users vote on the most popular stories, ideas or memes. In this way, the most popular online trends often emerge on Reddit first.
On the night of the shooting, people following the story watched Reddit which had many pieces of conflicting pieces of information (both confirmed and unconfirmed). The high traffic even generated a timeline of events that people would update while citing their sources. The majority of the timeline was created by a young Reddit user named Morgan Jones who was interviewed by Buzzfeed.
There are many feelings and thoughts that have emerged as a result of that tragic midnight movie: politicized conversations about gun control, thoughts on film violence and even whether or not costumes should be allowed at movie theaters. But another thought is that of how we produce and consume our news. Is it a good thing that we can crowdsource our news? Is it problematic? How do we feel about unedited sources that don’t have the integrity of fact checking behind them? In times of tragedy, how can we best organize not only our information, but our feelings (one Reddit user ended up advising a bystander on how to cope with PTSD).
What do you think?