Last Tuesday, a tragic accident in Caledonia took the lives of two of five passengers immediately and severely injured three others, one of which passed away three days later on Friday. Although I’ve never had a personal relationship with any of those involved, I did go to high school in Leroy, the neighboring town and biggest sports rival to Caledonia-Mumford.
On Saturday, I was reminded of some of the reasons why I love social media.
Emily Peterson, the third victim of the accident to pass away, was a passionate Boston Celtics fan and Rajon Rondo was her favorite player. I don’t know who had the idea, but members of the small-town community began tweeting at the NBA point guard, including #RondoforCMstrong, in an attempt for him to show his support for Peterson and the other young individuals involved in the accident.
The campaign was incredible.
Grabbed the attention and action of Peterson’s favorite professional athlete.
Obviously the circumstances are upsetting. But when Rondo retweeted one of the messages sent to him and then sent an original tweet containing the hashtag, it meant that he knew about Peterson’s love for him as an athlete, and he showed his support for her.
It’s been retweeted over 1,300 times.
— Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) July 20, 2013
Grabbed the attention of some other high-profile stars Eventually, the campaign was broadened to target other athletes and stars. And a number of them listened, including Stevie Johnson – Buffalo Bills wide receiver and Dustin Zito – VH1 reality TV star.
— STVN (@StevieJohnson13) July 20, 2013
— Dustin J. Zito (@dustinzito) July 20, 2013
Grabbed the attention of traditional media outlets.
A number of news sources reported on the Twitter campaign including some television time on 13 WHAM. Other print coverage was published by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Genesee Sun and The Batavian.
Brought a devastated community together.
My Twitter feed was absolutely inundated with this trend on Saturday. It was really incredible to see so many people from so many area towns all united by the same cause.
I couldn’t help but feel like I was taking part in something of a digital funeral service. Because so many were thinking about the victims at the same time and talking to each other about their lives, it had essentially the same effect on people: it relieved some of the pain.
Of course, there can be no substitution for an actual funeral or wake for a passed away friend or family member, but I do think there is something to be said for the added ability that social media provide for groups that are grieving. Additionally, Twitter served as a communication vehicle to Rajon Rondo – someone who likely wouldn’t have known about the tragic accident otherwise.
Remembrance and celebration of a life are important when anyone passes away. In this case, though, the Twitter campaign could be responsible for some other more tangible effects as well. Perhaps the added awareness and coverage of the accident will ensure that the intersection that was the scene of the crime has a traffic light added to it, or perhaps there will be more donations to the fund set up for the families of the victims.