Debate: Social media and 9/11

I’m certainly not the only one who has mulled over the idea of social media and 9/11. Chicago Magazine blogger Whet Moser has taken on Washington Post publisher Katherine Weymouth, who wrote of being grateful that we did not have social media technology on that day 10 years ago. She is quoted: “Can you imagine how horrifying it would have been if we had tweets from the victims on the planes or in the offices, or if they had posted to their Facebook pages?” Moser disagrees, saying such technology may have aided in communication amid the chaos, and/or contributed to the historical record. You can read his entire post here.

Granted, all this debate is neither here nor there, because the fact remains that social media as we know it today did not exist 10 years ago. There’s probably no concrete way to prove this hypothesis, but still I wonder if in some subconscious way that feeling of helplessness on that September day led to developments in social media, as a way to stay connected. What do you think? Would social media have developed anyway/at the same time? Or did times of crisis such as 9/11 spur it on?

More takes on issues surrounding social media, news coverage and 9/11:

9/11 on 24/7: Youth, social media and the modern news cycle, Annie Hammock for the Journal & Courier (Lafayette, Ind.)

“The dilemma for news organizations is where to find the fine line between the graphic and the gratuitous, the essential and the egregious. And they must ask if it matters when social media and citizen journalism are constantly shifting that line. The pictures so carefully filtered on 9/11 can now easily be found on the Internet. Images of the experience are so ubiquitous, it is perhaps understandable that young adults lack any perception of the attacks as something remarkable in the history of terrorism or the practice of journalism.”

9/11 in a social media world: How the times have changed, Peter Stringer for (Boston)

“Social media’s real-time sharing is a different story altogether. Messages are much shorter and carry far less detail, but they circulate with blinding speed. Still, as soon as you can share something on Facebook, your missive is bumped down the News Feed by something else. So what would your News Feed have looked like on 9/11? Presumably, it would be overwhelmed with posts of mourning, sadness, horror and anger. People who rarely post would likely feel compelled to suddenly weigh in, caught up in the heat of the moment. But how much phone or in-person contact would you actually have with your friends and family in the aftermath?”

How 9/11 changed social media, Rabbi Jason Miller shares a letter from Meetup founder Scott Heiferman for The Jewish Week (New York)

“A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was born: Could we use the internet to get off the internet — and grow local communities?”

September 12: The 9/12 Project, Barbara Bresnahan and Tim Jensen for the Enfield (Conn.) Patch

“Few things remind us to stop and think so profoundly as the anniversary of 9/11. … It has been said that on the day after, 9/12, Americans stood together as one, like never before, putting aside their political ideas, skin colors and religious views. In an effort to keep that feeling of togetherness alive, The 9/12 Project was formed. … Promoted as a volunteer-based, non-partisan movement, the group’s aim is focused on building and uniting communities back to the place we were on 9/12/2001.”