Pity poor Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times, tasked with explaining the phenomenon of teen social networking sites in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings.

The word loner has shown up regularly in the news media's descriptions of Mr. Cho, and it seems to have struck a chord with users of Facebook, for whom would-be friends—other users who respond to electronic overtures, often reciprocally—sometimes seem more numerous than strangers. (To those familiar with older connotations of the word "friend," a Facebook or MySpace friend might be better described as a "correspondent.")

Say what you will about the Times, at least they understand the needs of their geriatric print readership. Stephen Holden, writing an appreciation of Kitty Carlisle Hart, gets off easy: You don't need to provide a lot of context for the folks who had tea and crumpets with the late grande dame.

Online, Students Say 'Reach Out to Loners' [NYT]