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Osama bin Laden’s death impacts students here

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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While five of the 30 sophomores in Ben Palafox’s world history class were just entering grade school when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred, they’re aware today of the impact Osama bin Laden’s death last Sunday could have. The News Messenger spoke with five Lincoln High School students on Tuesday morning, ages 15-17, about what bin Laden’s death means. For two students, it meant the possibility of family members in the military returning home. Andrew Sterling, 16, has five uncles in multiple branches, all in Iraq. “They can come home now,” Sterling said, because Iraq needs “less protection” from U.S. troops. The United States will be able to “stop focusing on the war,” according to Sterling, and focus on other items. “We can focus on reviving the economy and getting back on our feet,” Sterling said. April Fajardo, 16, agreed that bin Laden’s death would affect military families. “My father is in the military, an undisclosed (position),”Fajardo said. She recalled watching the Sept. 11 attacks with her parents almost a decade ago. “My dad had to be at work early that morning,” Fajardo said. “He’s gone a lot because of that.” To Marcus Warfield, 16, it means “one of the main leaders” of terrorism is gone. “It will help back troops out of Iraq,” Warfield said. “We had no real reason to be over there except oil and to protect the population.” Madison Leewright, 15, said bin Laden’s death “unifies everyone.” “I think that what it does is it’s the ability to show we are not out of this and we put 100 percent into doing what we want into stopping terrorism,” Leewright said. John Nielsen, 17, said bin Laden’s death “means a lot to the United States.” “I personally think it’s one of the great military actions of the 21st century,” Nielsen said. “It means a lot to those who grew up without mothers, fathers and children. It’s incredible.” Most of the five teens said they heard the news via a social network, such as Facebook or Twitter, and/or through text messages from friends. Social-media expert Josh Unfried, a Lincoln resident, spoke about the impact of Twitter and Facebook on the news-making issue of bin Laden’s demise. “In this specific case, the Osama story is just, in a nutshell, a demonstration of how social media amplifies, when news breaks, how people are finding out before press happens,” said Unfried, CEO of Windfarm Online Marketing. “When news is breaking via Facebook and Twitter, people are discovering the news and going to traditional media, like newspapers and TV broadcasts, to verify and validate that it’s really happening.” Social media has also impacted how news breaks, according to Unfried. Through measuring Tweets per second, Twitter tracked that there were “the highest volume of Tweets per second ever” from 10:30 p.m. Sunday to 2:45 a.m. Monday (Eastern Standard time), according to Unfried. While President Barack Obama addressed the nation Sunday night, the number of Tweets reached 5,000 Tweets per second, Unfried said. Facebook has not released an official statement similar to Twitter’s, Unfried said. “The former chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld first leaked the story through Twitter, hours before the president announced it, Unfried said. “While the raids were happening, this guy who lives in Abbottabad (Pakistan), in a residential area close to the compound Tweeted about the annoying helicopters in English.” The positive aspect of social media goes along with the bad, according to Unfried. “Consumers, even in Abbottabad, have been empowered with a voice, and it’s a good thing they’ve been given a voice. There are risks and dangers that go with that,” Unfried said. “I think the main point is that technology itself is really amoral. It’s an extension of life and of who we are as a society.” Unfried supplied a sample of Tweets from Pakistani and Lincoln residents Sunday night. Lincoln Tweets include “Well time for bed. Long nite last nite with Osama dead;” “Osama Bin Laden has been killed. It’s a great day to be an American;” and “How long will it be before Donald Trump demands to see Osama Bin Laden’s body and death certificate. And then the test for DNA?” Tweets from Pakistan include “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1 AM (is a rare event)”; “A huge window shaking bang her (sic) in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S;” and “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”