Whitney Houston passed away Saturday at the young age of 48. Perhaps garnering more recognition in recent years for her battle with drugs and attempt to return to pop glory, Houston was never able to regain her signature sound that led to her being referred to as, simply, “the voice”. Houston had enjoyed mass popularity throughout the 80’s and 90’s, with no other artist coming close to her sound. Her death sparked a flurry of social media commentary. Within an hour of her passing it was the top trending post on social networking site Twitter and was on every news outlet and website. The core of Houston’s audience from the 80’s and 90’s took to Facebook to post video’s of the late performer and mourn as a global community. When Michael Jackson passed away in 2009, traffic on sites such as Facebook and Twitter reached record highs, and it was then that it became a realization that social media isn’t just limited to gossip and pointless activity, it can be used as a global gateway. It is through social media that we have not only found a means to connect with peers, but share in our greatest triumphs and ultimate sorrows.
Social networking has expanded beyond simple means of communication and transformed into an extended reality. Since the death of Michael Jackson, the music community has also grieved the early passing of Amy Winehouse and now Whitney Houston. Social media has come to not only keep up with “breaking news”, but provides people with an outlet when faced with the loss of performers they have grown to love. Gone are the days of having to suffer alone, with social networking grief and celebration can be shared more directly than ever before.