My office is about 30 miles from Chardon, Ohio, the close-knit town of about 5,000, where three teenagers died after a young gunman opened fire in a school cafeteria not long after sunrise yesterday and shot five students, spreading permanent, piercing darkness

The murders are tragic, senseless and horrifying. Profound loss and pain have sliced through the hearts of parents, teachers, friends, families — and an entire community. Grieving washes outward and affects us all, portraying our worst fears that something so evil could happen at a place where young people deserve to feel so safe.

Amidst the mourning, healing begins. Community bonds firm. Neighbors reconnect and reassure. Love deepens.

Much of that has happened virtually, through social media. Right from the start, children near the carnage were quicker than the official news with texts to their loved ones. And ever since the first shots sprayed in that school building, social media has continued to enable and ease the spreading of condolences, heartfelt wishes of sympathy and sorrow for the families, survivors, victims and their community…on Twitter, Face Book and other sites.

That social media has anchored this outpouring reminds us, in this high-tech age, we humans still need — indeed, thrive among — community. We crave community because it soothes, connects and offers us a foundation for functioning amidst the mourning.

The physical community around Chardon is joined and supported by other communities, nearby and far-away, all connected through social media. The friends and relationships we make and sustain through social media can be every much as comforting and connecting for us as our neighbors. Even more so, in some cases.

A tragedy that snuffs out the lives of bright, young people, reminds us of what’s most important in our lives: the love and communities that surround us. It’s also a reminder that the communities fostered through social media are real and growing deeper and broader. This most modern of technology complements a human need as old as history — to share, connect  and comfort. Social media helps spread the support, love and healing that so desperately needed to flow right now, reminding us of the power the technology presents.

Below is a Storify chronology of the Tweets associated with this horrible event. It has been edited and curated by Michael Scott, a seasoned reporter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. While filled with emotion and difficult to read, in places, it shows the outpouring of compassion  and concern that took root through Twitter in the aftermath of this tragedy.

My wish is for peace for Chardon’s residents, for you and for all of us — now and tomorrow.

[View the story “Day after Chardon school shootings: Mourning in virtual and personal space” on Storify]