Photos courtesy of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Following the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting, social media allowed members of the Pepperdine community to share information and cope with tragedy and violence in a variety of ways.
In the days following Nov. 7, students and their families, faculty, staff and alumni shared their perspectives on different online platforms. These individuals prayed for the well-being of others, expressed a need for change and honored the memory of those who were lost, including freshman Alaina Housley.
“I have been impressed with many of the thoughtful reflections I have seen from our students and faculty on social media,” Sarah Stone Watt, dean of the Communication Division, wrote in an email to students. “In a time when these platforms can be divisive, it is wonderful to see so many of you communicating in ways that invite unity and healing.”
“In a time when (social media) can be divisive, it is wonderful to see so many of you communicating in ways that invite unity and healing.”
On Nov. 8 at around 5:30 a.m., Pepperdine confirmed that several students were at Borderline’s College Night at the time of the mass shooting. This post received hundreds of comments from concerned members of the community.
As students marked themselves safe using Facebook’s crisis response feature, their loved ones expressed simultaneous feelings of relief and disbelief immediately after the horrific event.
Alumni reassured the Pepperdine community that they would keep everyone affected by the act of cruelty in their thoughts and prayers, often offering help and praising the university’s leadership.
Stone Watt said social media called attention to worship services and fundraisers and allowed individuals to serve their local communities by preparing food for shelters, aiding first responders or filling sandbags.
Alaina’s Housley’s own Facebook page is now a memorialized account to honor her memory and offer comfort to those left behind.
Katelynn Quick, a senior Rhetoric and Leadership major, said acknowledging diverse perspectives and striving to achieve unity are crucial components of effective social media use.
“Some of the best advocacy that I see on social media is the kind that does not name call or yell, but looks to inform and seeks feedback to become more informed,” Quick said. “We now all have a face for a victim of gun violence … and we can use this experience to advocate for change.”
As Pepperdine continuously updated followers with information regarding the shooting, including counseling and prayer services, Twitter users embraced the platform in order to raise awareness about the act of violence and catalyze change.
Senior Advertising major Amelia Edmondson said the content on social media has caused many people’s beliefs on important issues, such as gun control, to evolve.
“Social media makes the fight for changes such as this trendy and, therefore, more powerful,” Edmondson said.
Following the shooting, the Housley family created the hashtag #alainasvoice, which led to the Alaina’s Voice Foundation — an organization that promotes acts of kindness, honors the victims of gun violence and advocates for improved leadership.
Alaina Housley’s uncle, Pepperdine alumnus Adam Housley, shared his support for the foundation.
Many others also communicated through tweets, commenting on the community’s profound loss and doing their best to comfort those in distress.
Although Instagram typically emphasized eye-catching and heavily-filtered photos, the friends and family of Alaina chose to focus more on the captions of their posts when honoring her legacy and sharing their own experience in the Borderline shooting.
Edmondson appreciates that individuals now have a wide variety of accessible platforms through which to share their insights with others. She believes that social media inspires individuals to take action.
“There were a number of posts on Instagram and Facebook that touched me very deeply,” Edmondson said. “It was difficult to put these feelings into words, but there were some thoughts shared that were eloquently written and brought peace to many.”
A fellow Pepperdine student displayed her emotions after learning of her friend’s death.
A Pepperdine student present at Borderline during the time of the shooting posted the following photo.
Alaina Housley’s aunt, Pepperdine alumna Tamera Mowry Housley, expressed her grief surrounding the immense loss.
“I have been encouraged by posts from students affirming their care for one another, their support of the community, and their reflections on how their faith has brought both comfort and questions in this difficult time,” Stone Watt said.