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Remembering 9/11: Social Media and a Generational Split

Remembering 9/11 through social media

Remembering 9/11 Through Social Media | Graphic by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian

On the twentieth anniversary of Sept. 11, Wright State University (WSU) community members reflect on the historical event and how social media has helped show respect.

9/11 on social media

Katie Halberg, WSU social media program director, typically posts a simple but sincere message to her social media accounts.

“Simplicity and sincerity are a way to respectfully keep the memories of the victims and heroes alive without making it about ourselves, whether as an individual or a brand,” Halberg said.

Others do not post as a way to show respect. 

Graduate student Rebekah Wyse was born in 1998 and is too young to fully remember that day. Without that memory or a personal connection to the event, she refrains from posting.

“I don’t want to be inauthentic because that’s not something you should post about just to post,” Wyse said. 

Emilia Ranalli, who runs the social media accounts for ReyRey Café and Advocates for Cultural diversity and Excellence (ACE), feels similarly. Ranalli does not plan to make a post but will share posts she feels are heartfelt or personal.

For Wyse and Ranalli, it is important to acknowledge that Sept. 11 still impacts Americans today and is not an event to remember lightly.

The importance of remembering

Sept. 11 was a tragic and traumatic event that resulted in a changed America. 

Six weeks after the event, the PATRIOT Act was passed. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created, making air travel fundamentally different. 

Americans were different too.

“The event was a world-changer. As a global community, we were astonished and deeply affected by the coordinated and vicious attack. For the first time in most of our lives, it showed how truly vulnerable every person, every nation could be in the face of hate,” Halberg said. 

Sept. 11 is a solemn and sometimes painful memory. However, for many, it is one that needs to be remembered. 

“We—all of us—need to remember [9/11] because we need to take ownership for the individuals that sign up to defend our country and to what they sacrifice when we—all of us—send them off to war, especially when they come home,” Seth Gordon, the Veteran Military Center’s director, said. 

The generational split

Despite the general agreement that Sept. 11 is important to remember respectfully, there is a generational split in the way people view the event. 

For Halberg and Gordon, just like others who were old enough to remember, it is a before and after the event. Yet, for Ranalli and Wyse, the event is a tragic but distant history lesson. 

They know it through textbooks, old videos and personal stories. Many personal stories they see come from social media. 

9/11 was one of the first national incidents to occur when their stories could quickly be shared on television and in newspapers.

“I think anything like that; it’s important to keep that alive in a way. Just remembering the importance of it,” Ranalli said.

9:03 a.m. — “Remembering 9/11: Social Media and a Generational Split” is dedicated in memoriam to the passengers of United Airlines Flight 175 and those killed at or near the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

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