How Social Media Could Have Changed 9/11

It is hard to believe that this week marked the 12th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11. I remember that day vividly. Sitting at my desk in third grade feeling like I understood everything and nothing at the same time. 


If those attacks happened now, in this day and age, I really believe that things would have been much different. 


Social media is so easy to use and so accessible now, and with cell phones always handy, more people would have gotten to talk to their loved ones. 


For those who were trapped in the World Trade Center and could not get out, social media may have been able to provide a platform for exchanges to take place. Cell towers were congested, but with wifi and phones and 3G and 4G service, there may have been more closure. For those who did get out, they could let their loved ones know immediately, instead of inducing a panic over “what-ifs.” 


Just like those trapped in the buildings, those trapped in the hijacked planes also could have gotten last minute messages out. 


Social media, especially Twitter, would be a place for love and memories. Often social media is now thought of with a slight negative connotation because some say it takes away from our actual relationships. If Twitter had existed then, it would have done the opposite. 


Social media also would have changed the way 9/11 was reported. I remember the news just being a constant loop of the first and second towers getting attacked. If the attacks happened now, I think social media would have constant reports of varying information. With technology so advanced, there would most likely be more breaking developments in the stories of the terrorist attacks, so the news would be constantly changing. Then, it seemed like time was standing still and people struggled to find out what was happening. 


Journalists would have been able to share articles immediately, instead of trying to post information on sites that kept crashing. 


In terms of swaying public opinion, I do not know if social media would have been that big of a factor. The news of that day was so shocking, that people were barely processing, let alone forming a strong opinion. Unlike many other major news events, different media outlets shared a similar opinion, and there was a sense of pride for our nation. I believe that that would still be true with social media.


With social media, there also may have been a shift from focusing on the horrifying news to focusing on what is and was good in the world. Instagram may have been a place for people to share pictures of people doing good deeds, and opening up their homes to people in need. Twitter would have broken news at lightning speed. Facebook would have allowed people to communicate. 


It has been 12 years since that fateful day, and it is not any less devastating. Thousands of people lost their lives that day, and even more lost people they loved. Had social media been what it is today, at least there may have been a way to say goodbye and spread the news.