In class on Tuesday, we discussed different forms of online mourning, and concluded that digital spaces enable affected individuals to connect with the deceased-and with other living people-on an equal plane. Whereas funerals occur once, take place in a set location, and are often closed ceremonies, digital memorial sites (whether Facebook pages, Legacy.com, or online archives) can be constantly revisited and revised. One of these places we explored, “Our Marathon,” resonated with me especially because I am from Boston and have experienced spectating at the Marathon both before and after the events of 2013.
I have my “JFK Moment” from when I heard about the bombing; I was in the Chic-Fil-A in Huntersville and had just ordered a sandwich when a New York Times notification appeared on my phone. I first checked with my friends at home who would have likely been at the race to make sure they were okay. Thankfully, they all were. I did not know any of the four people who died from the bombing, nor did I directly know anybody who was injured, outside of mutual friends. Yet I felt some sort of attachment to the story and still do. Today, the site is relatively unmarked. The two explosion locations have been cleaned, and makeshift memorials have been placed in city archives. “Our Marathon” thus becomes a place where mourning lives on. I was affected by the event, but never would have been invited to the funerals of any of the victims. Thus, private grieving would be closed to me. Nevertheless, I still feel connected to what happened; to think that someone from New Mexico or France wouldn’t be as connected as be simply because of their area code is shortsighted. Such platforms allow the plane of grief to be leveled between all people. Tragedies bring people together; how can media help unite differences in times of happiness as well?