Enough time has passed now since 2001 that, as someone who wasn't there in New York (or DC), I'm just about ready to not think about 9/11 anymore. And worse, people who weren't there chanting "never forget" are starting to sound like a cliche of sorts. It's like suggesting you'll forget someone cut off your arm.
I'm not suggesting that what happened was trivial or unimportant. If I'm being honest with myself, the worst thing that affected me personally is that I lost my job (the company I was working for was hit hard when it had to cancel a trade show it was running). All things considered, it was "just" a horrific event on TV. I can't erase the images of people jumping out of buildings from hundreds of feet, but I want to.
Social media has come a long way since that time. Back then, we had CoasterBuzz, and I setup a special forum to talk about what happened. It was the only time I ever setup something off-topic like that, but it seemed like the community needed it. Now, with Facebook, Twitter and a ton of domain-specific communities, we connect with people in all kinds of different ways, and we do so a lot. When I started this blog, it was almost a novel thing. Now, not so much.
With that prevalence has come something of a strange thing I can only describe as nostalgia for 9/11. It's weird. Every year, people start reposting images from the day, and the "never forget" meme is loaded with different meanings. On one hand, of course, you want to remember the innocent people who died that day, but on the other, there's kind of a passive aggressive suggestion that we need to issue payback. That second part led us into one war that had nothing to do with 9/11 that had catastrophic consequences for our own military and the country we invaded, and another war that was completely open ended.
There was a "humor" blog post today that really brought it home for me with regard to how much we've lost our fucking minds. We've reached this completely strange point where we consider kids playing pranks with explosives to be terrorism. We willingly submit to virtual strip searches at airports. And now, we let the government warrantlessly observe us, and the guy who blew the whistle on it all is considered a fugitive instead of a hero for telling us what the government constitutionally shouldn't be doing. Anecdotally, I would also add that the group hug we experienced in the year following the attacks has been replaced by hate for people not even because of the religion they follow, but the region of the world they live in.
The terrorists won.
Fortunately, I'm an optimist. I want to believe that this is only a temporary situation, in part because it would just be too depressing to think otherwise. That a terrible thing would cause us to be more stupid is counterintuitive, at least in the long run. I still believe that people are good at heart, but allow themselves to be swayed into moments of stupid by their environment (I'm certainly not exempt from this). That Americans are standing up and saying, "Hold on, I don't think we should get involved in Syria," is certainly indication of this coming around.
9/11 sucked. While it's an important point in history, the take away is not to wallow in it, but learn from it.