There's one problem with this technology, however. In the aftermath of man-made tragedies such as the April 16 mass-murder at Virginia Tech, the Internet serves as a pipeline, an easy way of every so-called "expert" to expound on what went wrong and what needs to be done to make sure an incident like this doesn't happen on a college or university campus again.
A number of the items we've received from across the nation are of such poor taste we cringe just to think of them.
Some people among us have a warped notion that the proper response to April 16 should not be an attempt to comfort and console.
They see it as an opportunity to spread hate.
We've received an editorial cartoon depicting the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, spending eternity in a fiery pit of hell.
We've also received messages concerning the activity of extremist groups across the nation. These are a friendly bunch of people, who usually harp against anyone who isn't white and middle class. Naturally, they couldn't stay silent after April 16.
"They are using the shooter's Asian ethnicity as an excuse to pile on hate against Asians, Blacks, Jews and immigrants. It is yet another example of how the neo-Nazis and haters are seeking to create an atmosphere of divisiveness around the immigration debate and to engender fear of minority groups living in America," according to Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Even our old friend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church has gotten in on the act. You remember Fred. He and his flock seem to have a sole purpose in life – to demonstrate with picket lines at the funerals of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan as a way of venting rage at a government that they believe is tolerant of homosexuality.
Phelps and his church members had planned to demonstrate at the funerals of each of the victims of the Virginia Tech murder victims, claiming the April 16 shooting was God's vengeance for homosexuality in America.
This is all doing a great disservice by shifting our attention away from matters we should truly care about. Cho, described as a sullen loner, was depressed and becoming increasingly violent and erratic, according to news reports.
We must fight the urge to hate in the aftermath of all of the pain Cho's deadly act caused. We must not paint people suffering from depression as psychotic killers in waiting.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression is one of the world's oldest and most common ailments. It can have both physical and psychological symptoms. Millions of Americans are estimated to suffer from depression, a condition so widespread that it has been dubbed "the common cold of mental illness."
Depression is not something that you can snap out of, and it knows no age boundary. In 2000, 10 percent of college students and 13 percent of college women were diagnosed with depression, according to the National Mental Health Association.
During troubling times, we would all do well to heed the advice of Matt Stricherz, who directs the Student Counseling Center at The University of South Dakota. He noted last week that his own family immediately began to think about all of the family members affected by the shooting.
"We kind of put out a sense of love from a distance, a wish from a distance, and the hope that they would get news that's very positive about their sons and daughters," he said.
The experience of working on a university campus, Stricherz added, brings the issue of family and connecting to those who you care about to the forefront.
"Students are such a good resource to other students who are going through troubling times," Stricherz said. "And with our USD students, when a friend is troubled, they take action by holding a hand, lending a ear, opening a heart, and sometimes, by making sure that somebody on campus is alerted when a student is walking a very troubled road."
We know one thing for certain in these confusing times. Our reaction should not be one of hate. This is a time when friends should look after friends and neighbors should take time to check on each other's well-being.
It's a time to mutter the often-used phrase, "There for the grace of God" ? as we think of the victims and their families.
Those thoughts should not exclude Cho or his family. If there is such a thing as a scale that measures suffering, Cho's family likely is topping it. "We feel hopeless, helpless and lost," the family said in a statement Sunday.
"There for the grace of God" ?
The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.