Colo. victims tweets give insight on life, death
This undated photo provided by the family shows Jessica Ghawi. Ghawi is one of the 12 people killed when a gunman barged into a crowded theater, set off gas canisters and opened fire as spectators dove for cover and tried to flee, Friday, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo. Dozens of others were injured, including 11 in critical condition. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the family)
For Jessica Ghawi and Alex Sullivan, life's final minutes were about anticipation — not for anything life-altering, just a few hours of entertainment.
But their thoughts, as shared through tweets from two of the 12 killed in Friday's early-morning mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., have become a focal point for thousands of Americans openly contemplating a fundamental curiosity: For people about to die, what are the last moments in this world like?
Such minutes have typically been intimate, once reserved for one's own confidantes or, at least, a select few who might be nearby. But as Twitter and other social networks become real-time databases of human thought and interaction, the unfiltered conclusions of some human lifetimes are being cast into the public sphere for the entire world to see.
Among the billions of posts made each day on social nets, users regularly gravitate toward final postings by celebrities and others who have died. The Aurora victims have become the most recent example.
Sullivan was celebrating his 27th birthday at the start of a weekend when he planned to also mark his first anniversary with his wife, Cassie. He tweeted shortly before the movie: "(hash)TheDarkKnightRises (at)Reel_Nerds oh man one hour till the movie and its going to be the best BIRTHDAY ever."
Once his death became public, the tweet morphed into a springboard for a steady stream of people noting its significance and sharing sentiments. As new tweets rolled in, they came from different people but many comments were universal; things like: "RIP," ''So sad. Last tweet," or teary emoticons.
For Ghawi, a 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster who worked under the name Jessica Redfield, the public words in those last minutes are her bantering with a magazine hockey writer about being among the first to see the highly anticipated Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."
This undated photo provided by the family shows Jessica Ghawi. Ghawi was one of the victims in the Friday, July 20, 2012 Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting. (AP Photo)
"You aren't seeing it tonight?!" Ghawi asks Sporting News hockey writer Jesse Spector on Twitter.
"Nope," he replies.