Today is the three-year anniversary of UNC student body president Eve Carson‘s death, and Friday I asked readers on Twitter to share their memories of her or how she influenced them using the hashtag #EveToday. The response has been overwhelming, with an outpouring of Tweets all day long that is still continuing. I compiled the Tweets using Storify so that people could read through the dozens of messages at once. It struck me as I did so how much social media has changed the way we communicate even in the three years since she was killed.
In March 2008, I was still two months away from joining Twitter. I posted no updates about her death on Facebook, shared no links to any of the many stories I wrote about her death and only RSVP’d to a memorial service held a few weeks later. The Daily Tar Heel wasn’t on Twitter or Facebook either but let readers to submit messages to a Memorial Wall. In 2008 and in 2011 we tailored our approach to where our audience was, which is what we should be doing. Asking for #EveToday-style Tweets in 2008 would have yielded us few, if any responses. Our audience simply wasn’t on Twitter then, or even in 2009. Even last year I’m not sure if we would have gotten quite the reaction we did today. People are simply much more comfortable with social media and using it throughout their life.
I welcome this evolution. I remember feeling very cut-off from the rest of the UNC community when we all departed for Spring Break days after she was killed. There was no easy way for us to mourn together. Reading through the Tweets today was comforting, an instant reminder that out there, hundreds more felt just like me – saddened by her death and inspired by her life.