9/11 Predated Facebook, and That Might Be a Good Thing

Gabrielle Birkner: Digital mourning doesn't always cut it
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2014 12:35 PM CDT
9/11 Predated Facebook, and That Might Be a Good Thing
A single rose marks a victim's name during 9/11 memorial observances in New York City Thursday.   (AP Photo/The Daily News, Robert Sabo, Pool)

The 9/11 attacks took place years before the dawn of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the iPhone, which is why Gabrielle Birkner's memories of New York City in the aftermath are so "tactile" and "analog," she writes at Quartz. She remembers the posters of missing people posted on lampposts, not on social media, and actual American flags flying everywhere. We were thankfully spared from "anguished tweets or status updates from those trapped on the upper floors of the Twin Towers," along with "color-filtered smartphone pictures of the burning buildings, uploaded in real time onto Instagram."

Nor was there a need for everyone to comment publicly about what happened, or to create a trending WTC hashtag. Birkner isn't condemning the modern penchant for online mourning but pointing out that, had it been around in 2001, it "would have changed a lot about how we took in the events as they unfolded, how we parsed them, and also how we grieved." No matter how much we post, people still have "the need for deep, offline connection." So while plenty of tweets and status updates today will mark the 9/11 anniversary, "for much of New York, sanctuary lies in the passing taxi, the concrete sidewalks, the pulse of bodies in motion." Click for the full column. (More 9/11 attacks stories.)

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