Quartz: Thankfully, Social Media Didn’t Exist on 9/11

Would social media have diluted our sense of community in the aftermath of 9/11?


Gabrielle Birkner, co-founder of Modern Loss, penned a post in Quartz today expressing gratitude that social media did not exist during 9/11.

[It] was three years before Facebook, four years before YouTube, five years before Twitter, six years before the iPhone, and nine years before Instagram. So there were no anguished tweets or status updates from those trapped on the upper floors of the Twin Towers. There were no color-filtered smartphone pictures of the burning buildings, uploaded in real time onto Instagram. There was no destined-to-go viral YouTube video from al-Qaeda, claiming credit for the atrocities.

While recognizing that social media can lead to meaningful action, Birkner analyzes how social media could have diluted the sense of community support in the aftermath of the attacks.

While social platforms can be powerful in uniting people, it wasn’t (and still isn’t) a replacement for the real-life connection in times of grief. Every 9/11 anniversary in the social media age brings examples of distasteful tweets and cringe-worthy attempts at incorporating the attack into social media efforts.

Read Birkner’s post here.