Editor's note: The Motley Fool, headquartered in Alexandria, Va., would like to send our condolences to those affected by the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

The tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech this past Monday is of incomprehensible proportions. However, the events remind us that our current technology helps us better reach out to one another, even in the shadow of such tragic events.

As the news unfolded during the past two days, I was glued to the television. One thing I noticed was that technology was an integral way for students to both warn each other and find out whether their friends and classmates were safe. Students used email, IM, and text messages to contact one another or their parents. (On 9/11, instant messaging and email proved to be the best and most efficient ways for my friends and me to communicate amidst the shock and horror of the events, especially since phone service was spotty that day. Being able to seek such discussion and comfort was probably the only thing that helped me keep my bearings as the unthinkable unfolded.)

It's no wonder that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL all want to provide us with their versions of these tools. They help us connect with our loved ones, regardless of physical proximity, to provide companionship in the best of times and comfort in the worst.

Social-networking sites like Facebook and News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) MySpace are also helping students deal with this terrible incident. Young people at Virginia Tech are making pages to communicate that they're OK, and to organize a candlelight vigil. (There are also emails circulating that allegedly link to the profile of the shooter. These may be hoaxes, but they exemplify our very human drive to understand the psychology of such cold-hearted cruelty, the reasons why such things could ever happen.) There are also more than 230 related groups that have been set up on Facebook; they're made up of both Virginia Tech students and young people from other places extending their condolences.

Last but not least, let's not forget Jamal Albarghouti, the intrepid student who took video with his cell phone; the footage showed police officers venturing toward the building, with the ominous sounds of gunfire in the background. The news anchors I watched may have offered the disclaimer that Albarghouti's actions were dangerous, but they admitted that his video was the only footage available at the time. According to The Washington Post, when Albarghouti got back to his room, he had IMs and nearly 300 messages on his Facebook account, all related to his video.  

There may be more to Google's acquisition of YouTube than the copyrighted material that's posted on the site. Amateur video shot with cell phones when one is in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time, as the case may be) may often give a view of history, even if history includes events we wish had never transpired.

My heart goes out to the victims and the shocked, grieving students at Virginia Tech; I know many others join me in that sentiment. Today's technology gives us many more ways to deal with tragic events, and to reach out to others for comfort when the unthinkable happens. If there's a silver lining to this dark cloud, I think it may be technology's power to strengthen human connections.

Yahoo! and Time Warner are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Microsoft has been recommended by Motley Fool Inside Value.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.