Question 4 (Social media responses)

What were the responses you encountered on social media platforms?

Social media was a breeding ground for different organizations promoting their event or pin/hat selling to raise money for Tree Of Life. It was good to have support, but it didn’t feel genuine if it wasn’t a Jewish organization. The only people who posted things about their reaction were Jews. Nobody else was affected in that way.

There was a lot of pins and shirts made that were being sponsored on social media as well as a profile picture filter you could add to support the synagogues affected. There was a ton of money raised by the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and drives by the Pittsburgh Penguins that I saw on social media as well. Lots of news coverage on the event; social media was used in live streaming the vigil held the weekend after the shooting.

There was a lot of discussion following the shooting about antisemitism and gun violence on my Facebook feed. The “stronger than hate” movement gathered momentum and prompted a lot of profile pic changes in the days and weeks following the shooting.

Social media served as a way to stimulate conversation . The controversial debates surrounding gun regulation accelerated as the event made national news, and as those accounts circulated throughout the Internet, I saw a disheartening disconnect between the experiences of the local community versus those of people who were experiencing the tragedy only online and had no personal relationship to Pittsburgh nor Judaism. To local individuals, the aftermath was about resilience and recovery in the face of hatred; to many others across the Internet, the only matter worth discussing was the event’s impact on gun rights. This discrepancy is crucial.

Social media was very supportive. I didn’t see anything particularly unusual though, relative to other similar occurrences. It was the first time I’d seen Facebook’s little “I’m Okay” buttons.

Friends and family were concerned for the safety of my mother and I, being at work in Oakland.

Happy about the positive support, disappointed in some of the hurtful rhetoric…on both sides.

Across social media, many people including myself, posting pictures of the Jewish star with the phrase “Stronger Than Hate” on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I posted a picture of the Jewish flag on Instagram and expressed how important my Jewish Identity is to me in everyday life, and how people need to take a stand against these horrific hate crimes. During the day of the shooting, people posting messages expressing that they were safe, and expressed their regards to the lives suffered in “Tree of Life”.

It was comforting to see that people all around the globe were condemning this event and supporting minority groups.

I saw an outpouring of support and go fund mes and posts showing support from all over the world. It was shocking because I come from a small town where things like this don’t get covered by national or international news but everyone heard about this and helped out city come together.

I have a limited social media presence, so I didn’t see much. I did see a lot of people change their profile icons in remembrance, and some people did reach out to me to make sure I was okay, even though I myself am not Jewish.

I personally don’t love responses to tragedy on social media. People get angry or feel the need to vent to nobody on social media. Social media is a great way to get fast support, recognition, or to spread an idea,which many people did after the Tree of Life shooting. That being said, I think it takes a bit of humanity out of the situation and it turns immediately into another debate on gun laws. I don’t ever disagree that there should be better gun control in this country, but I don’t feel social media is the place for the debate.

Social Media Responses were very powerful. I wrote one myself and it received a ton of feedback and support from the community. The post is what made me truly realize that I’m not alone in the battle against antisemitism and hate. Hundreds of people flocked to the post to show support and made posts themselves after reading my story, which was really inspiring.

Why did Pitt spend copious resources to offer support/counseling for students and release statements of mourning and solidarity in the aftermath of an off-campus tragedy, while they refused to even acknowledge Alina Sheykhet’s death, let alone offer support or advocate for justice? Because one situation gives them the opportunity to virtue signal, and the other is unsavory to donors and prospective students. Fuck Pitt.

Nothing but thoughts and prayers, as usual. What is there to do after it is done? The support from around the world, while given with the best intentions, only made me angry. Why my city? My city doesn’t need your words, my city needs hope for a future without these senseless acts of hate and violence.

I encountered people pleading for more attention paid to mental health issues. Violence and mental illness should not be tied in together. It does a great injustice to the millions of people who live with mood disorders.

Many people discussed the hatred of this event all over social media.

Mostly just photos of the Stronger than Hate symbol.

The responses were mostly supportive online with people speaking out worldwide, but the most personal stories came from those local to the tragedy or those of Jewish faith. The incident became political almost immediately which caused people attempting to support the community to argue about whether or not this could be politicized so quickly.

Many of my friends and acquaintances posted stories and posts that said they sided with the Jewish community, that they were allies and stood with them in this time of tragedy and horror. That they would not let it happen again.

“Thoughts and prayers” and a lot of stuff treating it like just another shooting. It’s not just another shooting.

On most social media platforms, there were messages of support. However, when politics began to come into play (such as President Trump’s decision to visit UPMC Presbyterian), I noticed a strong divide among Pitt students, as there were differing opinions on how to address the matter.

A lot of people posted on Facebook and Twitter using the #strongerthanhate. They changed their profile pictures and marked themselves safe. I do not really agree with the social media approach. Changing your profile pics and updating your followers is not necessarily effective.

Everyone was incredibly respectful and helpful for the most part. The entire community worked together to slowly make things right, and I know the people of Squirrel Hill, and even all of Pittsburgh, will not forget everyone’s contributions.

Most of the responses on social media that I noticed were coming from either Pitt students or my Jewish friends who were upset by the news. If anything, I felt as though there was a lack of response from most people about the event.

Social media was really overwhelming in the days and weeks following, it was pretty much all that was on my feed. It was a way for me to hear how my fellow Jewish students and friends were feeling, for me to not feel alone, and for me to express my own sadness and anger. However, it did eventually feel toxic because I was thinking and reading about the shooting pretty much all the time. It felt like it may have hindered my own processing because I was seeing how everyone else was dealing, instead of focusing on me.

People making Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts talking about the tragedy and how horrible it was. Also, calling on their peers to speak out against antisemitism and support their Jewish peers.

There was a lot of grief and a lot of frustration. The “Pittsburgh is stronger than hate” phrase bothered many people, because the shooter himself had grown up in Pittsburgh. There was a desire for action towards gun control. There was a lot of frustration at Trump for pretending to care about the Jewish community, when days earlier he had made some antisemitic statements.

Many people on social media were raising funds for the families of the victims and Tree of Life community, and they were all changing their profile pictures, which I don’t believe was the best response, but came from a good place.

Many people from my hometown posted about it and a few people from my college. I got many messages on social media from people I had not spoken to in years asking if I was okay. It was a very surreal experience. It took over my social media feeds and was powerful to see how it affected people all over the country and world.

I think there were a lot of responses within the first couple of weeks, but now I think people have forgotten this has even happened, but I guess that’s the way news works in today’s culture, but I digress; for the most part, the average person on social media just denounced the incident and sent their condolences to those who lost people in the shooting. I do feel however, that news organizations and activist groups have taken this as a chance to spread their politics, which I just don’t think is right.

We posted pictures of protests on our Instagram and Snapchat stores and changed our Facebook profile pictures to have “together against antisemitism” and “stronger than hate” frames.

Social media was … frustrating to say the least. Most people were minimizing the role that antisemitism played in the attack–focusing on guns and gun reform, which was an important conversation to have but it really felt like a lot of people hijacked the tragedy to whitewash away the antisemitism. A lot of people linked it to Israel and that was very upsetting to see, as if people deserved to die sitting in schul because Israeli policy is inhumane. It was scary honestly. There was a lot of support, but a lot of it felt empty. Idk I couldn’t handle social media.

The majority seemed appropriate grieving or reporting responses. Actually, on Snapchat’s “Stay Tuned” News Channel, they showed Dr. Rabinowitz, the coworker of my mother, in his usual bow-tie attire and telling how he tried to save others before he was consequently shot. After my personal posts on the issue, I had friends from out of state telling me they were glad to hear from me since they didn’t know how close I was to the incident. Social media posts that I saw mainly showed solidarity and called out the actions of government that allowed for such tragedies to happen.

Myriad Facebook users had changed their profile frames to honor the victims and their families.

Anti-gun sentiments.

So many people were angry. Many people blamed Trump saying that he is a white supremacist and he caused this. many people begging for gun reform. Mostly anger, as well as sadness and realization that people can be so hateful. One amazing post I saw on Facebook said that the doctor who treated the shooter was Jewish and many people including myself were amazed that he did his job just as he would any other patient.

On Facebook, some of my non-Jewish friends marked themselves safe during the shooting. I only saw this after Shabbat, when I turned on my phone for the first time and scrolled through desperate texts from friends asking where I was, and listened to a voicemail from my grandmother, where she cried and begged God not to let me be dead. I was angry. It was irrational, but I couldn’t help but think that this was not their tragedy. No one had yelled “kill all non-Jews.” Of course they were safe. Later, I was able to understand that the shooting impacted non-Jews, but at the time I could only think about my people, my people whose lives were taken because they were exactly like me.

Social media was hard to go on. People were wishing me and others well and I felt like I didn’t want pity or a hashtag. I saw a lot of posts about #StrongerThanHate and I think it made me feel like those were just empty words.

I saw many long posts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which were really tough to read. Seeing friends and family post about families they knew who went to Tree of Life was so awful to hear about, it’s tough to describe. Social media almost takes some of the meaning away, however it’s also a way to reach bigger audiences, so I’m happy for its purpose there.

I saw that even different countries were posting stuff for Pittsburgh. I marked myself safe, received an overwhelming amount of texts asking if I was okay. Posts were everywhere.

I felt I couldn’t read so much. I became consumed, reading and seeing so much sympathy online, in newspapers, everywhere from the moment it happened to weeks later. It became too much. Everyone has their own opinion and I didn’t know where mine fit in. It was a confusing time and a saddening one, and I wasn’t sure how to react. I put up a post of the “Stronger Than Hate”. I felt I needed to address something. I didn’t know what else to do.

People were setting their facebook profiles to filters saying “against antisemitism” “Pittsburgh Pride” etc. Individuals also took to creating posts on the incident, learned news about the individuals involved in the incident, the problem of antisemitism in general, the administration’s involvement, and how the incident has affected them and their community.

There were a lot of people marking themselves safe during the shooting, a lot of posts about the tragedy and the loss. I remember my Facebook feed was heavily filled with Tree of Life-related posts and photos.