Im so glad there was no twitter or Facebook or any other social media as we know it today when 9/11 happened.
I know I can see the many benefits during the act itself. Could people have better reached their loved ones aboard the planes? Could there have been instagrams of the hijackers? Could some of that days tragedy been prevented? Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know that as someone who lives in the DC area and has a father who was working on a project at the pentagon during that time, it was scary.
I was in Latin class. We didn’t have smart boards, or smart phones. There was no such thing as texting in class. That was new and cost extra to have. I could only text 50 messages a month. Surely would not waste a precious text in class…I’ll just pass a note. I remember I was flirting with Jake Hull. He’s a dreamy musician now. He gave me a mix cd. It was High School love. That was the diamond ring of presents. Sadly Mr. Hull is engaged these days. I still think his mix cd is pretty rad. Anyways, a kid from my class who was a goody two shoes was pulled. I don’t remember his name. But I do remember someone whispering about a plane hitting the twin towers. I was thinking a small plane people fly on sunny days, not a commercial 757. I remember being nonchalant about the whole thing at first. Then the announcements came on. We were all being sent home. I was a junior and could drive. So I drove straight home. Terrified. Watching the skies. I had never felt so unsafe in my life. We were not in school for an entire week. There was a no fly zone for a month over DC. The first day I saw planes…I watched in silent fear to make sure it didn’t come crashing down on me while I drove to school.
I can’t speak for NY or even people who actually live in DC. I live in a suburb about 20 miles from DC. I was clearly safe from danger on that day. At the time, no one knew what was going on, but we were addicted to the TV. I remember the week vividly. 9/11 happened on a Tuesday. I was stressed about a test. It was a gold day. My easy day. Jake was wearing a Tye-dye shirt. I had on a hideous khaki floor length skirt and a brown shirt. When I got home my father was there, and my siblings were on their way home. That Friday, I was physically exhausted from watching 9/11 coverage 24-7. The images were awful. I watched the towers fall millions of times. I will never forget that day or that image or the woman crying as she watched the 2nd plane hit in a now famous picture that was splashed across every paper.
This week I have seen images of injuries that I would imagine only soldiers and war torn countries see. Countries that see bombings all the time. I was horrified by the events in Boston. Then enthralled in reading every tiny bit of information about the suspects and the chase that seemed better than any movie. I did not know anyone at the marathon. I was not there. I have no connections to Boston. But I do know what its like to be on lockdown. To be terrified that some evil is going to happen to you or someone you love because of geography. I live the DC/Metro area. Our local news is national news. I can say that I am not impressed by clearance or DOD jobs because they come a dime a dozen. I along with New Yorkers can sympathize with Boston. We know the pain. We know the weirdness. We know what its like to go to a parade or festival and have equal guests as there is security. But why must we obesses. I don’t want to know about these brothers.
I don’t care about their schooling, their friends, their family. I don’t want to see anymore videos or pictures. I just want to move on. I can say with confidence Boston marathoners and victims and citizens feel that ten fold. I want to hear about hope, I want to read about what is going to be done to make this never happen again. I want to know about the very important issue of gun control. Because this is too much violence. I was in Roanoke, VA during the VT shootings. The DC sniper was in my town. I had to walk zig zagged and terrified into every public establishment for months. I am 27 years old. This is too much.
I realize this violence is nothing as to what is in Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Kabul, China, North Korea, etc. I realize we Americans are pretty lucky to live the life we do. But it is still an immortal fear that is becoming a fixture in our lives. I remember the terror levels of the Bush years and the immediate feeling of relief when we went from red to orange. I don’t remember it ever lowering beyond orange. Our world is unsafe. And the internet makes that very real. In 2001, it was our trusted news anchors guiding us through pages of misinformation. Today, we have Glen Beck and Fox News giving us misinformation because they have a twitter. And the internet is right. Well news outlets, its not. Its wrong and we can’t trust it anymore. I want to move on. I want to read about other things in the world. I want to know when our gun laws are going to change. I want know actual information. I don’t want my fear to be fed. That is all the internet is doing for us. Sure, it brought together massive information for a manhunt, but it never loosened its grip on us afterwards. We are deflated now. Waiting for the next big story.
I think of George Orwell’s 1984, and Fahrenheit 451…we don’t even know what we are watching and why it matters but it enthralls us. It is shallow and often meaningless. But we search and dissect it. We even make up meaning in something as mundane as the President playing with the family dog. We have made our world unsafe. We have made it untrustworthy and meaningless. This is the problem with the relationship between us and the internet.