Where were you when you heard the news?

Photo: Ryan Merkley

We have a tendency to remember big news moments, where we were and who we were with when we heard them. Big moments like JFK’s assassination, the lunar landing, our 1972 hockey world championship win and 9-11. The recent passing of Canadian musician Gord Downie was another big news moment for many in our country.

Big news moments in music

I have a vivid childhood memory of hearing the news of John Lennon’s death. My mother woke me up for school and told me he had died. Our family talked about it over breakfast. My parents had grown up in England and experienced Beatle Mania.

I can also recall hanging out with friends with the radio on, decked out in our plaid flannel shirts and ripped jeans, when we heard the news of Kurt Cobain’s death. We were shocked and sad, and sang along together as the station played Nirvana for the rest of the day.

There’s sharing in a moment

Fast-forward to the age of social media. Similar to the news of David Bowie, Prince and Tom Petty’s deaths, I learned of Gord Downie’s passing from my Twitter feed. At all of these moments, I was on my own. Social media provides big news as soon as it happens, no waiting for the six o’clock news or newspaper delivery to learn about it. Unlike years ago when I only had family or friends to share in the experience, condolence tweets and posts remembering Gord and quoting his lyrics poured in from across the country. Even the Prime Minister expressed his sadness on Twitter. And yet at that moment I still felt, and was, alone.

And then there’s being together in a moment

Social media is a powerful tool that can put us in the know immediately and allow us to connect with people throughout the world to share our thoughts and feelings the instant we have them. But it can’t fulfil our need to be together for big moments, the way the gathering of friends and strangers telling stories and singing Tragically Hip songs did on Parliament Hill on Wednesday night. And that’s a good thing. Rest in peace Gord.

What are your “where were you when you heard the news” memories?

Social media helps us share in big news moments http://bit.ly/2zoY7mG

Where were you when you heard the news? How do you share in big news moments – social media, in person or both? http://bit.ly/2zoY7mG

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