It is hard to believe how much has changed in the media from September 11, 2011 until now. It is hard to imagine a world without people’s faces being glued to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Tumblr, Pinterest…the list goes on and on. But, how might social media have changed the “coverage, engagement and reaction to September 11?”
I think if the present social media we use today was around on September 11, 2011, a lot would be different. For one thing, people would hear about news much quicker. But, with that also comes many more rumors and false stories circulating on the internet. There would probably be extremely controversial posts on personal Twitter and Facebook pages and I cannot even imagine the Instagram pictures that people might find worth “filtering.”
Honestly? I am glad that the social media on 9/11/2001 was not how it is today. On that horrifying day people were not glued to their phones or staring at tiny screens. Instead they were surrounding themselves with those that they love. People were living in the moment. As awful of a moment as it may have been…there were no intense facebook conversations, no aggressive statements that could be created behind a screen, no want for validation from a post. What happened instead was people watching the news, listening for phone calls, emails, text messages. Traditional outlets allowed people to focus on what was important at the time. Sure, social media would be a good way to keep people updated and connected…but I also cannot imagine the negative gateways it would open as well.
One of my favorite movies, Love Actually, has a brilliant quote at the beginning: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
That second to last sentence always hits me hard. For this post in particular it made me think. People weren’t turning to Twitter or Facebook to connect…but rather individuals that they could be with face to face whether that be a family member or a stranger.
Social media in 2001 would have really challenged the idea of face to face human connection at a time when the United States needed it most.