Since 2001, September 11th will never pass by without reflection, memorials, sadness, questions. Or at least it shouldn’t. Do you pause when you see the United States of America flags flying at half mast today? Or do your eyes glaze over that sight as you rush to get to your child’s soccer game?
I find myself conflicted on this date. I feel bad for those who have a special anniversary. But should I? Should we? It is still a day of celebration that shouldn’t pale by comparison because of the terrorist acts of a select few.
Personally, I choose to reflect. Read and share stories. Learn more. Continue to ask questions. Benchmark. Where are we now? Are we safer? Do we have more understanding? Do we exhibit more tolerance? Do we appreciate those who have sacrificed everything for our continued freedoms?
If you were alive on September 11th, 2001, you have your own story. Your own memories, or those shared with you by those old enough to truly remember how the days unfolded.
Earlier today, upon reflection I was struck, rather profoundly by a fact I’d not considered.
We did not have the ability to instantly share our feelings en masse 11 years ago. There was no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Friendster and a host of other social media platforms in use today.
Think about that for a minute! THINK. ABOUT. THAT.
We gained the bulk of our knowledge of world events by traditional forms of media. Newspapers, television, radio, magazines. The news was delivered to us. We didn’t have the widespread ability afforded to us now to directly and instantaneously impact the news, comment, share readily with others. Including our opinions and beliefs. I sat with these thoughts for a bit before writing today. I tried to remember how the news of any given day affected me, perhaps differently, just a bit more than a decade ago. We shared around a water cooler.
Social media has become our virtual water coolers.
My brief research uncovered one of the first recognized bloggers. Justin Hall, a student at Swarthmore College, began his personal blog in 1994. Honestly, I didn’t read blogs until about two years ago.
According to Answers.com, early social networking websites started in the form of generalized online communities; The WELL (1985), Theglobe.com (1994), GeoCities (1994) and Tripod.com (1995). These early communities focused on bringing people together to interact with each other through chat rooms, and share personal information and ideas around any topics via personal homepage publishing tools which was a precursor to the blogging phenomenon.
Classmates.com began in 1995. Google was founded in 1997 and in the year 2000, a year before the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Google had one billion pages indexed.
Some of the more robust social media platforms didn’t launch until a full year or more post 911. Friendster began in 2002, MySpace and LinkedIn launched in 2003, Facebook followed in 2004, YouTube in 2005, Twitter was introduced in 2006, Tumblr in 2007, Pinterest in 2009 and Instagram in late 2010.
It seems so difficult to think back to a time without social media readily at our fingertips or at the end of our camera lens.
According to Pingdom.com in late 2011, there were 800 million Facebook users, 225 million Twitter accounts (100 million of those active) and we sent out on average 250 million tweets per day!
Ponder for a moment, how many tweets would we have sent just 11 years ago today? Imagine.
Imagine how Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media sites may have changed so much on this particular date in our history, September 11, 2001.
Lives might have been spared. The safety needs of countless numbers of people may have been more quickly addressed. Questions might have been answered in time to make certain events of our not-too-distant history play out differently.
Think. About. That.
There is no turning back. But my reflection today has given me pause. In the industry in which I earn a living, I am thankful for the introduction and the wide use of social media platforms. Very thankful. Just as I am thankful to those who put themselves in harm’s way for our safety, who serve our country to protect our freedoms and who make sacrifices every single day.
I don’t rush by the flags flying at half mast. Nor do I take for granted when they are flying high. Fly those flags high. In real life and online.