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Social Networking: Sharing the Experience of Breaking Stories

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ROYAL WEDDING TWEETS
AP

Social networking is continually changing how we share our reactions to breaking news. In a few days, we went from the royal wedding, to the devastation of the tornadoes in the U.S., to the coverage of the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Together we commented on President Obama's speech, Seth Meyers' memorable comedy routine and the news that Osama bin Laden has been killed. We are processing our own breaking reactions to each event as the stories are unveiled and the truth behind them is revealed. Facebook and Twitter are bursting at the seams.

The emotions surrounding each story are extreme. With the royal wedding, we saw millions celebrate the joy of possibility. We heard the reactions, both positive and negative, on Facebook and Twitter. Some wanted to believe in the fairy tale, while others were rebelling against what they saw as elitism and false representation. While considering the psychology behind this, I wondered if people were still reacting to how they felt when the truth behind Prince Charles and Lady Diana's supposed fairy tale marriage was revealed. We discovered what happened "after happily" wasn't what we imagined it would be. We realized that their picture wasn't much different than some of our own.

With William and Kate, it was natural for some people not to want to buy into it. I didn't want to get my hopes up again. Then, I watched the coverage. I was mesmerized by it all. It drew me in and intoxicated me all over again. I remembered sitting in front of the TV watching Princess Diana when I was a young girl and dreaming about the possibility. It hit me that this is her son. We experienced the loss of the Princess with him. Only, for him and Harry, it was the loss of their mom. We felt for them as if they were our own.

The royal wedding was a visual representation of the fact that he's found his piece of happiness. While watching, I understood why we were rooting for it all over again. Kate looked gorgeous and elegant and fulfilled the idea of starting the day as a commoner and ending it as a Princess. It represented the revival of the fairy tale. It made so many of us want to believe.

Then, during this experience, tornadoes hit the United States in a deadly rush. Alabama was hit the hardest. We watched the devastation. Stories were shared on the Internet. We saw families who lost everything. For many this included loved ones. We saw others that lost their homes, yet were so grateful to be alive and came through it asking themselves, "what do material things mean anyway?". You can rebuild. You can replace "things." You can't replace people. Their stories drew us in and made us feel.

One moment we were imagining ourselves living the fairy tale like William and Kate, and in the next we were imagining what we would do if we lost everything. What is really important in our lives? What does it all mean? By having social networking to turn to, suddenly we have a place to reveal and express our feelings about all these events.

Then, there was the coverage of the White House Correspondents Dinner on YouTube, which included Obama's speech and Seth Meyers's brilliant comedy routine that pushed it to the extreme, in some parts. It was so nice to see Obama speak, poke fun, laugh and comment on some of the more serious issues and news events. It was touching to see him acknowledge the courage of the journalists in the room and pay tribute to the ones we recently lost all in the name of reporting the truth. It really humanized him.

Then, Seth Meyers got up. I laughed out loud many times. It felt good to see someone know how to lighten things up. It took him 12 minutes to get to Donald Trump, but when he did, he really did. I wondered what it was like to be Donald Trump in this moment. He had done something that in the moment felt so ridiculous. Was he embarrassed? Ashamed? Again, Twitter and Facebook came alive with shared opinions.

Lastly, it was announced that Osama bin Laden was dead. Facebook and Twitter were busier than I've ever seen that Sunday night. There were so many views expressed, but elation seemed to be the primary one. I like to believe that we celebrate more for the reason that a goal was achieved and a threat was eliminated, than for the actual killing of a human being. I think people on the more peaceful side of life struggled with the reactions to this. I wondered what it was like for his loved ones to see so many people celebrating his death while they were suffering a loss.

All of these stories represent life. Story makes us feel from a very deep place. It enthralls, inspires, motivates, excites, makes us laugh, disappoints, devastates and renews us. Sharing our stories through social networking is connecting us. The stories and the people involved make us conscious of everything that is.

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