Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

VaTech: the Internet Gen’s 9-11

Posted on | April 19, 2007 | No Comments

The I-Gen’s Osama bin Laden is a menacing-looking nut job named Cho Seung-Hui who gunned down 32 people at Virginia Tech Monday. He’s left a twisted video and manifesto that people will pour over for clues to deranged minds for at least a few days before the next thing comes along. Most of us see evil; some pick out lessons. Others look for parallels.
But for the portion of the i-gen in college or entering college, the VaTech massacre was its 9-11. Sure, this generation lived through 9-11. They were pre-adolescents for the most part, but the enormity of that attack, the geo-political complexities behind it, were for the most part lost on them at that age.
When a guy goes down a dorm hall and barges into classrooms gunning down people indiscriminately, that comes home. It comes home anyway in the country because these kids are tightly knitted, regardless of zip code and college town, by Facebook. While we old farts think connectedness in sites like Facebook is a real oxymoron, it’s not. Six-degrees of separation takes on a whole new meaning in this world today.
Our daughter and her friends, 3,000 miles away at Berkeley, were deeply shaken by the rampage. Their magnet became Facebook. By 9 p.m. PDT Monday night word of a vigil had spread digitally in their world. Two-hundred people showed up on campus for it.
My college George Leopold and his wife live in Virginia. Their neighbor’s kid goes to VaTech, and they held a tense vigil for a few days this week, looking out their kitchen window for good news. They were finally rewarded when the young man came home in one piece, although he lost a friend in a shooting. George’s son, Ben, goes to another college in Virginia and traveled to VaTech for a memorial.
He called home and connected in the way his generation connects: holding up his cell phone while the crowd around him sang Amazing Grace.

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