11 years have gone by in a blink. Think about the fact that facebook, twitter and even a vast majority of the blogs in the world didn’t even exist 11 years ago. Our cell phones were still pretty hefty in size and didn’t offer near the capability of todays smartphones. You probably heard the news from a friend or rushed to a TV to see the images of the day America was attacked.
Now consider for a moment how differently that day would have looked through the lens of todays social media. I’m guessing, but I bet we would have tweets and facebook updates from those in the towers. Friends and families would have reminders of their thoughts as they posted quick updates. It would have changed so much about that day. It’s astonishing when you think about how much has changed and how driven this world is by social media just 11 years later.
Yet without all of these tools, America found a way to coordinate a nationwide response to the tragedy that took place that day. For weeks, we weren’t fighting one another. We shut off the TV and spent time with one another. Our words were a little kinder. Our thoughts were for others. Even our TV programs were censored for content. Movies that featured disaster were held back. Some were even shelved completely. The “suits” and “talking heads” in Washington even came together to show a country they were united. We put a filter in front of our thoughts, words and actions. It was a different country. Even if for just a few weeks.
I believe we showed on September 12th and the weeks that followed that we have the capacity to do better. Each and every one of us has a filter and the ability to think before we speak, post and tweet. As we enter what will be an unprecedented election season (thanks again to social media), our words on a site carry major influence. If you think I’m kidding, hit your facebook timeline. Count the number of political posts and the other updates complaining about, well, the number of political posts. Think about the way the “Chick-fil-a Appreciate Day” became a lightning rod a few weeks ago. I would go so far as to say that is was driven nearly entirely by social media. It has that impact. It has that ability.
As we reflect on that tragic day 11 years ago, take a moment to consider how you lived in the weeks that followed. Before you click “send” on that tweet or that facebook update, think about the impact of your words. Each of us has a sphere of influence which we can inspire or ignite. Our country could use a lot more inspiration and a little less ignition. We have the ability to choose which we will do.
We will never forget September 11th and those that lost their lives.