So…this is awkward and maybe a little selfish. But honestly, I’m grateful that 9/11 falls on a Friday this year. Because, according to my self-imposed editorial calendar, today calls for a thoughtful, reflective post already.
See, when I started blogging, and even before when I worked on various social media accounts, I never really knew what to do on days like this. Do I put up a long, overwrought, reflective post? Do I post normally, even if it might include a promotional message or something funny or ridiculous? Do I refrain from posting for the day and then return to “regularly scheduled programming” the next?
There’s no “right” way to do things on days like this, even though the media and pretty much everyone on the Internet will tell you otherwise. And rather than just being honest, everyone is so concerned about doing what’s “appropriate” and not stepping on any toes. And rather than letting people recognize or not recognize the day in a way that feels right for them, the People Of The Internet rise up to accuse, to condemn, to shame. I mean, maybe right now you think I’m an awful person for even questioning whether or not I should put up a “Never Forget” post, or maybe you’re rolling your eyes and thinking I’m being overdramatic and can’t we just move on already?
I don’t really know what point I’m making or not making here. I feel like I should write some reflections on 9/11, but honestly? I’m mostly just grateful I didn’t know anyone in the towers or on the planes or anyone really directly affected by it. I mean, I remember going to school on that day, in the Bay Area, and complaining with my friends that San Francisco schools had been closed for the day and East Bay schools weren’t. Distance (and naive, arrogant, self-centered youth) made it harder to feel the direct impacts. The people I know personally who have served in the military (and there aren’t that many, really) have all come home.
And then I wonder is constant reflection and honoring and paying tribute helpful or healthy? Is it right to force ourselves to pause and reflect, whether we feel it’s necessary or not? Are we partly just patting ourselves on the back, thinking “okay, I was thoughtful about this, check, time to move on?” Or “Look at me, sharing something so profound!” I have strong feelings about social media both positive and negative but there is definitely something that feels squicky about posting this so I can point to it and say “Look what I wrote about it this year!” Should I not post at all? Should I make this private? Should I write it in my journal instead? Should I share something else? Am I overthinking this? (Um, most definitely.)
Is there a right way, a best way, to react, to remember? Of course not, I think, because I don’t believe there’s a single right or best way to do anything.
Part of me wishes 9/11 could be just another day, but I know how lucky I am to be able to think that. And then I think I shouldn’t just be focused on me me me because obviously that’s lame. And then, at a loss, I listen to this song and think about how one day, my kids will come home from school, after learning about 9/11 in their history class, and ask “Mom, do you remember 9/11?” And all I can do when that happens is be honest and hopefully have a thoughtful conversation about it.
I wish I didn’t have this rather ridiculous mental struggle about today (because really, who cares about what gets published or not published on this little blog by an Internet nobody?). I wish it didn’t mean anything, that all the victims were still alive and going home to their families tonight, that we weren’t still embroiled in all these crises in the Middle East, that people could still meet loved ones at airport gates instead of baggage claim or other areas outside the security checkpoints. But I do and it does and 14 years later, I still don’t really know how to handle it.