America lost a music icon last Thursday. Our infatuation with the music and personal life of Michael Jackson made him a pop staple through the '80s, '90s and start of the 2000s. His death left a few generations of us devastated.
Fans around the world gathered to create outdoor shrines. Famous and local DJs created MJ-packed playlists to showcase at bars and clubs. Radio stations broadcast minute-by-minute coverage of his death and later aired tribute programs.
After the death of music greats such as Elvis Presley and John Lennon, people stayed close to televisions to watch live broadcasts and breaking news. They listened to radio broadcasts that aired the news and later the music.
When Jackson died the same kind of ritual took place.
But one place people gathered was unique to the 21st century. People immediately jumped on Twitter and shared the experience on the world's fastest-growing social site.
Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, told the New York Times tweets doubled per second the moment the story broke and that the volume of Jackson-related messages hit 5,000 per minute.
From the time an ambulance rushed Jackson to a Los Angeles hospital, to unconfirmed death reports on gossip sites, to reliable news coverage and confirmed reports, the world watched and shared it all on Twitter.
Multiple generations of people in different corners of the world connected via Twitter to grieve, remember the music and share memories of Jackson.
Twitter's wall became a message board for sharing thoughts, news and memories.
Danielle Basci, 25, Chicago, was my program director when I worked for the University of Kansas' student-run radio station, KJHK. Jackson tunes have blared over the airwaves for three decades at KJHK. The songs still provide staples in party playlists. In Lawrence you can't go out a night on Massachusetts Street, a street lined with bars, restaurants and stores, without hearing "Thriller," "Billie Jean" or Jackson 5's "ABC."
For our generation, if Jackson wasn't part of childhood, chances are he's been part of the college years.
Basci graduated from KU in 2008. We have stayed in touch through Facebook and now Twitter.
Last Thursday, from Chicago, she was sad about Jackson's death.
From Garden City, I felt her pain. I remembered the radio station, parties and bars of Lawrence where we moved and shook to Jackson's hits. "My first kiss was to 'Do You Remember the Time?' by Michael Jackson. RIP," Basci wrote at 5:43 p.m. June 25 on Twitter, minutes after Jackson was pronounced dead.
Kansas City hip-hop artist Greg Enemy, 21, wrote on Twitter that he was riding around Kansas City with his brother "blastin greatest hits with the windows rolled down ... and my heart sank to my feet," at 7:01 p.m. the evening of Jackson's death.
Greg Enemy performed a lot of shows for the radio station my last year of college. The influence of Jackson's music is apparent in his.
He provided tweets with links to Jackson's music videos on YouTube and wrote about wanting Jackson apparel when he was a child.
Jackson's death is still at third place on the Twitter's trending topics after a week of sharing favorite tunes and memories.
It's not too late to hop on and tweet yours.
Gray is an intern at the Garden City Telegram. She blogs on SWKtalk.com/graymatters about social media. To get connected to Telegram Tweets, visit Twitter.com/GCTelegram.