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Thoughts on social media, news and Utoya

July 24, 2011

Let me first say that I am shocked and horrified by the events at Utøya. My heart goes out to the family and friends of all on the island, and I cannot imagine what they must be feeling right now. As the news reports came in through social media and traditional press I think we were all mesmerized by the tragedy.

I ran across a translated post from one of the girls at the camp on the island written the night after she escaped to safety, and I wanted to share it with you. The original post in Norwegian is here:  and there is a translation here. In it she describes her experience on the island and she also talks about updating Facebook and Twitter and reaching out to family and friends during Anders Behring Breivik’s rampage. (warning, graphic and truly heart-wrenching)

She writes:

"I am awake. I don't manage to sleep any more. I am sitting in the
living room. Feeling grief, anger, happiness, God I don't know
what. There are too many feelings. There are too many thoughts. I am
scared. I react to the slightest sound. I want to write now about what
happened on Utøya. What my eyes saw, what I felt, what I did. The
words are coming straight from my heart, but I will anonymise many
names out of respect for my friends."

And then tells us in great detail what it was like on the island during the attack.
It really hits home in times like this how deeply engrained social networks are in our everyday lives. Imagine a terrified girl reaching out to tell those she cares about. She calls her mother, texts her father and then sends tweets and Facebook posts to her friends.

I Google translated a couple of tweets. Just normal stuff, she live -tweets what appears to be a session on politics at camp, getting ready for a football game, giving a talk at the island, some political thoughts and then retweets a friend (also on the island) “Someone shoots at Utøya. Update the police!” followed by the poignant : “I live for now.”


Someone shoots at Utoya

Translated: “Someone shoots at Utøya. Update the police!”



I will never forget

Translated: I am confident. What I have experienced and gone through the Utøya today, I will never, ever forget. #utoya

The alleged attacker had been posting for some time on his Facebook page (now taken down) and on Twitter where he had only one post:
Anders Behring Breivik on Twitter
As with many times in the past, the immediacy of tools like Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus bring us news at the exact moment it happens, unfiltered and long before the traditional press has time to respond.

What does all this say about how we communicate in today’s society?

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