I've been reluctant to comment on the events of Tuesday, September 11th, as I am afraid of contributing to what is becoming a wall of white noise. So much rumor and rhetoric is flying is every direction that I fear that any comments on the subject, regardless of their nature and content, will only help to bury us deeper in circular arguments and premature speculation.
It is for these reasons that aov has been dormant for the last few days. Rob made an initial post early in the day on Tuesday and a few readers replied. As it became clear what was unfolding we decided to remove the post (and the replies). I was afraid of the conversations that may ensue with such fresh anger and fear. I didn't feel we (or anyone, for that matter) would have anything constructive to say so soon after the events and with so little concrete information. What I fear most is a permanent record of our short-sighted anger and ignorance at historical turning point.
In an email from Matt, he wisely remarked that "This is something that will be talked about for the rest of our lives; there is no need to begin today."
A few strange days have passed and I have received several emails from regular aov readers honouring our decision but respectfully suggesting that the aov readership is both ready and capable of having a worthwhile conversation. I agree.
Some interesting phenomenon I've observed in the last few days:
- There has been a disappointing amount of disrespectful, dishorourable, prematurely speculative, and accusatory online discussions (as there are no social repercussions online - you can make an offensive comment, shut off your computer, and walk away).
- At the same time, there has been much positive and healing online discussion. A conversation of those who have found refuge and healing through music struck me as particularly fresh and constructive at the appropriately named Signal vs. Noise website.
- The simple technology of the Internet amazed me in a way that it hasn't since I received my first email or sent my instant message. Amazon.com setup a simple donation-via-creditcard system for the Red Cross (which I'm sure many of you have seen by now). When I first discovered the page about $100,000 had been donated. I refreshed the page (a web-developers habit, I suppose) and the figure jumped by a few thousand dollars. Surprised, I refreshed the page again, and the figure jumped by thousands more. My best estimates put the rate of donation at approximately $100,000/hour. However, it wasn't the amount that I found most compelling. Rather, it was the unfamiliar, tangible, and immediate feeling of community and participation I felt in knowing that so many people from so many places were doing exactly what I was doing at the time.
- "People don't sacrifice themselves for no reason." - from a post at Dave W.'s Scripting.com (link via Reinvented.net).
- "New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs." - from the powerful article, An Afghan-American Speaks at Salon.com.
- This is a difficult thing to write about. Clichés such as "in the wake of..." are difficult to avoid. Words like tragedy, atrocity, and massacre seem cheap and inadequate. Even in this post, I've used the phrase, "the events of Tuesday, September 11th" for lack of a better description.
I was brought back to a family vacation years ago where I can clearly remember standing on the roof of the World Trade Center looking down at our tiny van below. I'm having great difficultly reconciling this memory with the images of this same building crumbling to the ground. I do want to hear how these events have affected you personally. I do not want to hear accusations and speculation.