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Tragedy and the Power of Social Media

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Ande Dagan: My mom and stepdad were inside the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., this morning when the shooting occurred. Both of them had parents who survived the Holocaust, and were on the third floor of the museum when the gunman started shooting.

shooting at holocaust memorial museum

My mom and stepdad were immediately rushed out an exit door with people shouting at them to run -- that someone was shooting -- and to get as far away from the building as possible. They were able to get out safely and called me immediately afterwards.

I flipped on the television and scanned the Internet looking for the story, but since it had just happened, nothing was available. I went on Twitter and tweeted about what my mom had reported to me. Within minutes, I had someone from CNN and the Washington Post asking for her contact information. They were trying to put together the story with the most accurate information available and at that point in the day, there was very little information out there.

The power of social media throughout this awful situation has been nothing short of phenomenal. CNN got in touch with my mom and she gave a very eloquent on-air interview about the tragedy of the situation and the sadness of the never-ending hatred that is unfortunately still very prominent in the world. Meanwhile, I have been receiving tweets from complete strangers offering sympathy and support.

I'm still shaken up about the whole thing. I am also outraged at the unnecessary recognition the (I'm intentionally not naming him) shooter has been getting. Traditional news outlets are drawing attention to his anti-Semitic book and quoting hateful passages from it. For most viewers, the quotes are shocking and disgusting (read: great for ratings!) but for neo-Nazis it is advertising.

Trying to make sense of this tragedy is useless. I am deeply saddened by the incident but thankful that more people, namely the thousands of children who tour through the museum daily, were not injured.


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