studentsgoneglobal said: Hey! We saw you are traveling abroad and love your Tumblr blog! We are StudentsGoneGlobal[.]com – A new social start-up for youth travelers! We would love to have you join our free community (and share your story you can even import tumblr posts)! All you have to do is “Request An Invite” located in the top right of our homepage :) We also have a new site coming out this summer!
Thanks for the message! I’m happy to hear that you like what I’ve got going on over here. I’m definitely interested in joining your online community and connecting with others that share a passion for travel.
It began as a typical Friday night in Isla Vista. A few of us were having drinks and sharing laughs at a friend’s apartment before heading to a party taking place down the street. At 9:41 P.M. I received the following text: “Everybody stay out of IV. There is an active shooter on Trigo.”
In the 15 minutes before receiving that text, six of my fellow students were slaughtered, with an additional 13 injured by gunshot wounds or vehicular assault. The entire Isla Vista massacre took place within a mile of my apartment. A friend named Kevin, the one who sent the text warning about the shooter, was at a park directly across the street from one of the murder scenes when the shooter drove by unloading rounds out of his car. Kevin’s interview with the Los Angeles Times can be found here. Two additional close friends, including a future roommate, were in a truck at a nearby stop sign when gunfire was exchanged between the gunman and sheriff’s deputies.
After a traumatic evening of panic and confusion, the details of what happened slowly began emerging online. Around midnight several Reddit users had shared the shooter’s sinister YouTube manifesto on the UCSB subreddit. For the next week, an expeditionary force of media crews flooded our small community. They parked their satellite trucks in front of IV Deli and the Alpha Phi sorority house to film our tears as we brought candles and flowers to the makeshift memorials.
Several services were held to commemorate the lives of our fallen classmates. The massive sea of people that walked together into Harder Stadium for the memorial service was unfathomable, dwarfing the attendance of our most crowded soccer matches. The weekend before we had come to the stadium to celebrate Extravaganza, an enormous yearly music festival held each year by the school. None of us could have possibly believed that we would be gathering there a week later in the tragic wake of another mass killing on American soil. At the memorial service, we remembered the lives of our fellow Gaucho’s that were taken from us.
As a community we mourned together, and as a community, we have moved forward together as well. Several days after the memorial service, a paddle out was organized by students to heal and reflect. I rushed out of my history class that day and raced home to grab my surfboard and wetsuit before making my way to the beach. I paddled out towards the enormous ring of community members gathered in the water, swimming through an ocean filled with brightly colored flowers brought by the maritime mourners. After some words of wisdom and a moment of silence in honor of the victims, we as a community shook hands and shared smiles with one another.
After the Aurora and Newtown shootings unfolded, I voiced my outrage on social media. I talked about gun control and mental health. I expressed anger and disgust towards the shooters, the NRA and the world. But in the aftermath of the Isla Vista Massacre, I was almost silent. The few words I shared were in remembrance of the victims and disbelief in what had happened. And I noticed that those who were from UCSB and Isla Vista did the same.
It was the people who didn’t have a personal connection to the shooting that were the first to take Tumblr and Facebook by storm and use the tragedy to advance their political agendas. Social media activists spread the name of the killer and not the brave young people who lost their lives. The Isla Vista tragedy highlights numerous prevailing issues in American society. Misogyny, gun control, mental health, power and status, wealth and racism have all been brought into the spotlight in an attempt to analyze the reasons why someone could do something so unbelievably dreadful. These are all serious discussions that need to be had within our country. However, these conversations should:
In the days after the massacre, I made an interesting observation. Several of my friends online were incredibly vocal about the issues raised during the Isla Vista killings, with feminism and gun control in particular being the most prevailing topics discussed. Both sides used the tragedy to defend and attempt to advance their political ideologies. Yet out of those most vocal about misogyny and the 21st Amendment, not a single one of them reached out and asked if I was okay. It was the people that said nothing but reflected on the horrible events of May 23 that sent texts, phone calls and Facebook messages asking if I was safe or how I was coping with everything. It was the parents of the “activists” who had more life experience and a better understanding of the emotional and psychological burden of loss that sent messages asking how I was doing and expressing their sympathies for our town.
Despite the horror and sorrow that Isla Vista has gone through, we as a community are stronger than ever. As I sat in Harder Stadium during the memorial service, surrounded by thousands of fellow individuals coming together as one, I felt part of something larger than myself. We were connected as students, as a community and as human beings. I had never been more proud to call UCSB my school and Isla Vista my home than I did sitting silently there in that moment. Sometimes it takes tragedy to remind us of our priorities and remember that we are born into this world with a simple mission to listen, to help and to love one another.
Isla Vista has become a beacon of strength, love and grace for the world to see. We honor the lives of our fallen comrades by continuing to live our own lives not in fear but with compassion and thanksgiving. Staying true to our school motto, “let there be light” and continue shining, UCSB. Together we are one, and together we are strong.
Many moons have passed since my last post. What began as a fast from social media during the Lenten season snowballed into complete blogging hibernation.
The most exciting update concerning this page is that I’ll be spending the summer studying abroad for a month in Berlin, followed by a five week backpacking trip across Western Europe!!!!! This has kinda’ been my dream adventure for the past few years and I still don’t know if I’ve fully processed the awesomeness of what awaits in just a few short weeks. Expect more updates to come!
Some other rad things I have had the privilege of experiencing while on my Tumblr holiday include: