I was sitting by my computer when the phone rang. My sister was calling my office in the middle of a workday, which was very odd. Did you hear was all I remember her saying and then silence – utter silence. I had not heard about the 9/11 attacks and quite frankly I almost did not believe her.
I tried to access CNN’s website, but our Internet lines were jammed with activity and my screen stood in an abyss of grayness. I was completely cut off from the world or at least this is how I felt. I remember walking quickly to our corporate cafeteria in hopes CNN was on the tiny TV that seemed to always display nothing of value. Upon my arrival I was relived to see the TV on and I stood watching, trying to get a grasp of what was transpiring. I stood in disbelief and in awe of the brutality, the loss, and the despair. I had no idea the magnitude of the events would have on our country. No one did.
While I personally was without loss, I knew of someone who did lose a loved one that day. While I did not lose a friend, loved one, or my own life – I was touched and I was forever changed. The world I knew was different. It felt no longer safe. The existence I knew, no longer was a reality. It took me a long time to recover and to return to normal and I live far away from ground zero. I can’t imagine what the day brought for those within New York and the other sites of chaos.
Today I remember this day clearly and I remember the feeling of helplessness. I remember the feeling of being cut off and without the knowledge I so deeply craved. It made me wonder what that day would have been like had 9/11 occurred in today’s high tech world. Today when Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube are information giants that spread data feeds at the speed of light. Would we be better or worse off with this technology? Would our Blackberries and text messages help or hinder us?
I wonder if real news would stream from these sites quickly or would panic erupt inside an electronic cloud of misinformation and self-induced chaos. I don’t have a good answer for it. I suspect we would see positives and negatives from our new obsession with social media. And while I welcome the positive aspects of life confirmations, snippets of hope, and stories of survival, I also dread the idea of those Internet lurkers and cave dwellers who might have used social media to exploit others with their own twisted versions of reality.
For the first time I am fearful of social media and what it brings to society. And why I am momentarily concerned for the future of this medium, I am also thankful for the country in which I live, the people that united in post 9/11 efforts, and the nation that became stronger and safer than it was in years past.
For all of those who lost their lives in 9/11 and for all of those who lost someone, you are remembered.