"Thirteen years later, this counts as a historical document." September 11, 2014 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Smithsonian.com ran a short story today about Metafilter's reaction to 9/11, highlighting a comment by MetaFilter user Doug in an image.
posted by Chutzler to MetaFilter-Related at 2:56 PM (87 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

Revisiting that FPP and even though I was here before they were banned, it always gives me a start to see inline images on the blue.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:10 PM on September 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

"Thirteen years later, this counts as a historical document."

It's a shame so many of the links are broken.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:20 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had just started lurking over here a few days before -- having wandered over from jessamyn's librarian.net. I was working my part-time reference gig at Austin Community College library that morning and checking in on Metafilter while setting up the desk. Reading the posts coming in and goosebumps racing up my arms...I tried to get the A/V tech to bring in one of the TV carts to the library and turn on the news.

"People in Manhattan on Metafilter are saying planes have crashed into the World Trade Center - we've got to turn on the news!'

"What's Metafilter?"

"It's blog, it's...whatever....there are real people really seeing this in Manhattan and posting right now...."

"What's a blog?"


So much wrapped up in that day. Technology and human connection and horrible tragedy all at once.

posted by pantarei70 at 3:21 PM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

I looked at the thread this morning, as the morning news was running footage about commemorative events around the world. I couldn't bring myself to read more than a few comments. I've read it before, somehow, a few times. Couldn't do it today.
posted by rtha at 3:30 PM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've mentioned it before but that thread was a requires reading assignment in a college course I had in 2004.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:32 PM on September 11, 2014 [40 favorites]

Whoa.. I remember the img tag, but it's always shocking to see it in action now.
posted by absalom at 3:45 PM on September 11, 2014

That thread was how I mainly followed what was going on, and I was in a midtown office building at the time.
posted by languagehat at 3:45 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

With another episode of unwinnable endless war declared last night, it's unfortunate just how right Doug was.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:49 PM on September 11, 2014 [11 favorites]

I "missed" 9/11. I was backpacking with friends and didn't find out for days.

Not only is it really surreal to miss one of the defining historical events of your lifetime, by the time I found out about it, it was a historical event. And as awful and tragic as it was, I had a really hard time understanding everyone's reactions to it. I'll be honest - to my backpacking friends and me everything seemed like an overreaction. Because...terrorist attacks happen. All over the world. And to the U.S., in other parts of the world. And it had even happened here, before.

When I finally sat down to read through that MeFi thread, and see everyone respond in real time, and experience all of the confusion, speculation, misinformation, and emotion playing out in real time as the thread* went down the page - all that the shock and grief and the deep yearning to figuring why and what was happening, and caring, all that caring about one another, just boiling out of the blue....that finally drove it home what it really meant to live through it. It was horrible. For the first time I could grasp why everyone around me was acting the way they were.

So yes, absolutely a historical document. I hope one day to show it to my children. Show them the comments that were insightful and predictive. Show them the comments wherein one could see the seeds - whether from emotion, opinion, or foresight - of how America would react and act in the future.

And also? Show them how the internet used to be.
posted by barchan at 3:59 PM on September 11, 2014 [30 favorites]

I was not expecting to be as overcome as I was while scrolling through that post. My coworkers don't understand why I am crying, either. It's a weird/sad space we're in as a country right now.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:00 PM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Me, too, HG.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 4:02 PM on September 11, 2014

AskReddit had a thread today asking non-Americans how the news had covered it in their country. So strange to read so many comments beginning "I was in class and the teacher..." "I was watching cartoons after school..." "I was five years old and all I remember..."
posted by Diablevert at 4:11 PM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

I won't look at it. I remember using mefi for updates that day. Then when everyone went bonkers with rage (everywhere, not mefi specifically) I turned off the Internet for a few days. I came back to mefi first, given that it is way less crazy than pretty much everywhere else, and found everyone here going bonkers. I shut off the Internet for a few more days. Eventually there was a relative lull in public emotions until the war drums started...
posted by MillMan at 4:17 PM on September 11, 2014

I just re-read it, too. It is a surprisingly long time ago now, but that thread is so evocative. It's good that people outside MeFi recognize it as a historical document.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:17 PM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

I saw this, well a link to the link, pop up on a friend's facebook feed. I dropped in to say how awesome MeFi is and that threads like that aren't all that uncommon. I namedropped the presidential debate threads and the Wendy Davis filibuster thread as examples.

This place really is a treasure.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:26 PM on September 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

It's good that we have this as a historical document. It helps understand just how raw it was. Having grown up in the UK, close to terrorist attacks, I had an understanding of how it would affect the US. It's hard to believe that it's been 13 years since then, it still seems so fresh. Time may heal wounds, but the scars remain.
posted by arcticseal at 4:28 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Thirteen years later, this counts as a historical document."

It's a shame so many of the links are broken.

At first I was going to snark on The Smithsonian's sub-header, "The Metafilter page discussing 9/11 is still online," but then the article notes that this is significant because 1) there wasn't much in the way of online news, and 2) most of that has disappeared for one reason or another. Truly, MetaFilter is an internet treasure, for a number of reasons.

I wonder how much was captured with the various sites used by Resurrect Pages, a FireFox addon that can search CoralCDN*, Google Cache, Yahoo! Cache, The Internet Archive, MSN Cache, Gigablast, and WebCite for old versions of a page. (* CoralCDN didn't exist until 2004, and I couldn't find when the other services started archiving sites.)
posted by filthy light thief at 4:34 PM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

how the news had covered it in their country

We had just woken up at a little after 3pm, so 9am EST, and it was the top story on BBC World/Antena 3/Rai whatever, everything. It was extremely surreal, but the full effects weren't felt until the next time I had to enter the US. Had it not been for unfortunate family circumstances, I never would have come back after that.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:51 PM on September 11, 2014

The Library of Congress has a September 11th Web archive. Here's the archived version of the Metafilter thread, which looks pretty similar to the way the thread renders now. I do like the tagline: "you're wrong. no you're wrong!"

There's a lot of interesting stuff in that archive, from news sites to political sites to blogs. It covers September 11, 2001 through December 1, 2001. 2,313 sites are browsable, and there's also a searchable list (careful, the list is very long and might crash your browser) of nearly 300,000 archived sites.
posted by sockermom at 4:56 PM on September 11, 2014 [12 favorites]

This comment. 10:10 on the morning of September 11, a Mefite saw the future and called it.
posted by maxsparber at 5:01 PM on September 11, 2014 [10 favorites]

The most heart-breaking web page I saw was the home page for some guy who worked in the WTC, the comments on the last post he made. The early comments were well wishers hoping he got out alive. Then there were some asking him to respond, so that they would know he was alright. And eventually they knew he hadn't made it, and it turned into mourning posts.

I have no idea whether that page still exists and wouldn't know how to find it even if it did. But it encapsulated the horror of that event more concisely than anything else I read anywhere.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:20 PM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

I wasn't (quite) yet on Metafilter on that day (looks like I signed up less than a month later). I remember pretty much all the major news sites being more or less down due to the sudden load, and Slashdot being the best site for current updates. That thread was crazy, though (sort of like the Reddit thread when they were hunting down the Tsarnaev kid in Watertown) -- I wouldn't want to wade through it again. The Metafilter thread is excellent not just as a reminder of the reactions we were all having in the moment, but also because you can see many of the themes that were going to develop later (why did the towers fall like that, will Americans take this out on "brown" people, are we going to war now) in embryonic form.
Also, what's up with that person who commented "WOOHOO!"?
posted by uosuaq at 5:54 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's also amazing from the current vantage point that there were only three comments in that thread after September 12, 2001.
posted by Curious Artificer at 6:07 PM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also, what's up with that person who commented "WOOHOO!"?

I assumed he was just your standard issue total asshole.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:14 PM on September 11, 2014

My kid's social studies homework was to interview someone who remembered 9/11. "Would you like to see an interesting primary source document?" I said. She made it through about half the thread, and at one point highlighted this comment: it's more important that we be unified and support each other. "Why can't that always be true? People go to war over such stupid things."
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:39 PM on September 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

It certainly looks that way, His thoughts were red thoughts...I guess I'm forgetting what a fucked-up, chaotic, busy day that was...reading the thread here in 2014 it seemed strange that he (?) wasn't immediately torn to bits for saying something like that. But everyone was trying to figure out *which* flight from Boston their sister was on.
posted by uosuaq at 6:55 PM on September 11, 2014

I spent that morning on a message board that has since shut down, and that seems to have a big hole for 2001 on the wayback machine, and I don't know whether I'm glad of that or not.

This is the first year when I forgot this was coming and wasn't braced for it. It was also the first year when everyone didn't feel the need to tell us all where they were on that day. That's ok by me. I'm not sorry that it's sort of becoming history. And I wasn't even directly affected, although members of my family were.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:04 PM on September 11, 2014

I was delirious with a never-actually-managed-to-be-diagnosed flu-like illness which had hit Sunday, Sept 9th and worsened over the course of the 10th. Needless to say it made tuesday morning somewhat surreal and dreamlike.
posted by Justinian at 7:18 PM on September 11, 2014

Also, what's up with that person who commented "WOOHOO!"?

He's apparently still a member. We could ask him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:21 PM on September 11, 2014

I thought about the "WOOHOO!" too. It crossed my mind that it could have been in response to the comment before it, which is about where the plane that downed in PA had originated. I want to believe that yangwar knew someone on a plane that morning, and was relieved to find out that it wasn't the plane that went down.
posted by umbú at 7:38 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

So much has changed, these past thirteen years. I had totally forgotten till someone mentioned it today.

I spent tonight the same way I spent that night 13 years ago, at a prayer meeting. The smartest thing I did that day was be away from the tv set that night.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:38 PM on September 11, 2014

I was proud to see Smithsonian Mag post that. But I just can't bring myself to read that thread. I just can't.
posted by Neekee at 7:56 PM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

i remeber that morning so crisply.

that morning, my Telocity DSL bridge arrived and i had a digital connection to the Internet for the first time. i had just booted the bridge and had started my morning ritual of checking the news... and I was about to start making pancackes for my brother and I. Mom and Dad were already at work... and Havoc was yearning for his walk.

i remember watching it all unfold on cable news networks... and that thread. i was a ghost of MeFi in 2001... and i have been here ever since.

I am so far from the person I was back then. it is so hard to believe that itks been 13years.

This nation and world has changed so much... I scarcely recognize it anymore.

It's so odd to see this thread highlighted as a record of that time and place.

i have no idea how we realy head forward from the speech last night... but it fills me with forboding.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 8:04 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of the strangest mornings I've woken up to in my life. In chilly Melbourne in a shitty little one-bedroomer in Toorak. I usually watched Pokemon, but this was everywhere. I think I thought it was just your standard "building got blown up in America" news segment that would be dead within 24 hours, but when I saw what building it was, and all those people covered in dust, talks of nuclear strikes in retaliation...goddamn, I said to myself, this is some serious historical shit. I woke up my girlfriend at the time and we watched together for a while before I went off to work, and it might be my fanciful memory but Melbourne seemed awfully quiet that day.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:29 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

"People go to war over such stupid things."

from the mouth of babes
posted by jayder at 9:20 PM on September 11, 2014

It's worth remembering that MeFi didn't have favorites in 2001, so what comments now stick out as easily detectable pearls of prescience could have very easily been missed entirely at the time, or indeed for several years afterward.

Looking at the favorites on that comment, I can't help noticing that the biggest clump is from November 2010. Why?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:48 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looking at the favorites on that comment, I can't help noticing that the biggest clump is from November 2010. Why?

Possibly this?
posted by lalex at 10:24 PM on September 11, 2014

turbid_dahlia, like you I didn't find out about it until the morning after (unusually) listening to the news on JJJ. I thought it was a prank, some sort of radio gimmick à la War of the Worlds. Slowly realised it wasn't, and that Harrison Ford wasn't going to save the day. Raced to work so I could call my family in NY - not in the city - just in case, somehow, one of them had been there. And then everyone listening to it over and over and over. Standing in the rain at the US Consulate on St Kilda Road with other expats and US travellers, trying somehow to make sense of it. Melbourne was definitely eerie that day.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:46 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

AskReddit had a thread today asking non-Americans how the news had covered it in their country. So strange to read so many comments beginning "I was in class and the teacher..." "I was watching cartoons after school..." "I was five years old and all I remember..."

I have no interest in posting on Reddit ever but: I (a New Zealander) was 12 on September 11, 2001, and at least for me, it was my introduction to paying attention to global current events in a meaningful way.

I first saw the news when I went online before school that morning - but didn't really understand the impact of what had happened. I think I'd never, or perhaps only incidentally, heard of the World Trade Center before that point, and I don't think I quite understood the terrorism aspect and its implications. It just seemed like any other "bad thing happens" news article.

When I got to school, on the space on the whiteboard where the teacher usually wrote the schedule for the day, she'd written "America :(". She explained it to us as best you can explain something like that to children (or to anyone, really). We were shepherded into the next-door classroom - where we usually had our Maths lesson - to watch news footage on TV. Definitely the quietest room of 11- and 12-year olds I've been in. Over and over again we watched people jumping, the collapse of the towers. I wonder if they'd still show it to kids now - or if they'd have to get parental permission first.
posted by lwb at 2:42 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

My own recollection is that in my office in London the internet was basically inaccessible for several hours because of the level of traffic, but I might be wrong. I clearly remember going down to the library where a colleague told me a plane had crashed into the WTC and it looked bad: I gave him a patronising explanation about how it could only possibly be a light aircraft and how those buidlings were explicitly designed to withstand that kind of impact.
posted by Segundus at 3:17 AM on September 12, 2014

We had a moment of silence before our all-hands company meeting yesterday and I realized that a lot of the co-workers sitting around me who are right out of college can barely remember it.
posted by octothorpe at 4:24 AM on September 12, 2014

I've started canning tomatoes on the anniversary each year. It's my way of asserting "I'm still here and life can be good."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:33 AM on September 12, 2014 [16 favorites]

Like others in Australia, I was a little out of sync with the events unfolding and saw it on TV when I turned it on early in the morning for the kids to get their daily dose of cartoons. Couldn't figure out for a few seconds why there was some dramatic movie on at 6 in the morning (or whenever it was, early anyway). Then couldn't figure out why it was on so many channels at once. Then the penny dropped...

When I first saw it (I think it was just as the first tower fell), the speculation was that it was the work of Israel which, in the context of something so unthinkable in the first place, didn't even register as ridiculous. 13 years ago? It still feels like yesterday.
posted by dg at 4:58 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I woke up that morning with the only case of severe stomach flu / food poisoning that I can recall in recent memory. It was BAD>>>> Projectile bad.....over and over...then all this started......I was barfing like crazy, trying to watch the news....trying to keep my then 15 month old daughter who was OBSESSED with tv from seeing the news, I was a crazy mess . I didn't know about MF till about 5 years later...... being able to follow a thread (without the toddler saying "the plane, the plane!") and know what was going on would have helped.. Glad I found y'all.
posted by pearlybob at 5:37 AM on September 12, 2014

highlighting a comment by MetaFilter user Doug

All these years later I get chills thinking how quickly this was realized, how prescient it was, and yet how people that day could not possibly have had any idea what was to come.
posted by psoas at 6:13 AM on September 12, 2014

It's weirdly jarring to see images in MeFi threads now, especially the one right near the top of the 9/11 thread. Also pretty impressed that that image has remained on CNN's servers in the same location for 13 years, you'd have thought that it would have been archived by now or renamed or something. I think that's the only image posted in that thread that's still working.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:18 AM on September 12, 2014

Memory is such a weird thing. I've only been on metafilter since 2007, but I remember lurking in that thread. Now, this is a possibility, but it's improbable. I did lurk for many years, but I am fairly certain it wasn't that long. I do remember reading this place and fark and reddit on pretty much a daily basis (pretty much like now if you cut out fark), but the idea that it was 6 years doesn't seem possible.

But every time I reread that thread I think, "Yeah, I was here while that was going on."

I think this is because at some point I became emotionally vested in this place, so it's like I want to have been here. I also have sat through enough live blogged events to know how they go, and I've sat in on a couple without participating, but I know these are false memories, though they jive with how I spent that day.

Again, it's possible, and my memory has that thread being how I found metafilter, but why I would lurk that long makes no sense to me now. I do remember the $5 keeping me out (not the money, the inconvenience of signing up for a service I didn't want so I could pay for something I did want). I do know when I finally got around to joining, it was on Sept. 11 2007, so maybe it's a thread from that day fucking with my head. Looking at my first comments though that theory seems shot.

I worked for The Des Moines Register at the time in IT. In news the more hectic things get the less people give a shit about IT unless it breaks, so on election nights and major events no one calls. So I could sit and do nothing but but read the internet all day. I would occasionally get up and watch CNN with the people all standing around (at that thine of day mostly designers and illustrators). I watched the second plane hit live (the first had been reported on the news on my way in and at that point they still thought it was a small prop plane). I spent the day going through AP photos and reading accounts on the internet. A lot of those photos have never run in print as far as I am aware and a lot of them should probably have never been submitted, but I think people had no idea what was appropriate that day.

Anyway, my memory has me watching TV news, reading the wires, reading various news sites, debating issues in the newsroom, and basically doing no real work that entire day.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:18 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

It crossed my mind that it could have been in response to the comment before it, which is about where the plane that downed in PA had originated.

I think a charitable interpretation is eminently reasonable, given that they posted the following month about an event to donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund (and moreover said in the comments that they would participate).
posted by solotoro at 6:19 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

All the wrong confusing information that shows up in the thread is what makes it such an important historical document to me.

Shame Doug's comment wasn't wrong too.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:28 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is there a particular reason why this anniversary feels like it's been more commemorated than last years? 13 isn't a nice round number or anything. I feel like this came and went last year without much thought, but this year it's back on everyone's mind. Is it the coming war against the Islamic State that's driving it? It feels otherwise random and kind of weird.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:40 AM on September 12, 2014

It may be related to the fact that the memorial opened: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/9-11-museum-open-families-responders-ceremony-article-1.1934218
For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the long-awaited National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum will be open to victims' families and first responders after Thursday’s anniversary ceremony.

Families of the victims and first responders will be able to visit the museum following the traditional reading of the names on the 13th anniversary event at the memorial plaza.

Also for the first time, the public will be allowed into the memorial after 6 p.m. On all the past anniversary days, the site has been shut down for the entire day.

The changes continue the gradual opening of the site, which is slowly coming to life after years of construction delays and cost overruns.

The year after the attack, mourners gathered in what was then called “Ground Zero,” a scathing open wound that served as a stark reminder of the terrible events of that fateful day.

At the time, the 16-acre site was a wasteland surrounded by buildings still damaged from the terrorists’ brutal handiwork.

Thirteen years later, One World Trade Center rises 1,776 feet in the air and is set to open this fall. Across the plaza, Four World Trade Center is scheduled to begin welcoming tenants in a few weeks.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/9-11-museum-open-families-responders-ceremony-article-1.1934218#ixzz3D6r5V1Or
posted by wenestvedt at 6:56 AM on September 12, 2014

Oh, that does explain it then. I had totally missed that that happened.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:06 AM on September 12, 2014

I am going to shed a tear for robots.cnn.com, which I learned about that day.

I think I learned about it, and the attack, on the FuckedCompany.com message boards. Regular news sites were not responding foir some time that day, iirc.
posted by thelonius at 7:30 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

AskReddit had a thread today asking non-Americans how the news had covered it in their country. So strange to read so many comments beginning "I was in class and the teacher..." "I was watching cartoons after school..." "I was five years old and all I remember..."


Each generation has touchstone events. World-shaping/altering events that they can all relate to. For Americans, there was D-Day. Kennedy being shot. Man walking on the moon. Kent State. MLK's assassination. The Challenger disaster. 9/11.

13 years. Didn't watch the news yesterday or read news sites. Much less stressful.
posted by zarq at 7:50 AM on September 12, 2014

AskReddit had a thread today asking non-Americans how the news had covered it in their country. So strange to read so many comments beginning "I was in class and the teacher..." "I was watching cartoons after school..." "I was five years old and all I remember..."

I was going to vent slightly to a co-worker yesterday (just a little "yeah, so, this day's usually a little weird for me, sigh....") but stopped when I realized that she was only eleven when it happened.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:52 AM on September 12, 2014

I don't think I knew about metafilter at the time -- i followed the news via AIM, mostly.
posted by empath at 8:00 AM on September 12, 2014

My office was on strike that day, but I'm a deemed-essential employee and so had to report to work. The union responded to that by making all of us wait 15 minutes each to enter the parking lot, so that day, I was sitting in a friend's car in line, chatting with her when someone ran down the line yelling to turn on our radios. It was 9:30 or so, after the first plane, but before the second.

The strike line dissolved soon after that. We were ushered into our offices quickly, even the striking employees joining us. My job touches the edge of emergency response. I had a very busy day that day and for a few days after, marshalling what help we were able to provide.

I was not able to see Mefi that day. I was not then a member, but was lurking. I didn't see that thread until later, but it brought home to me how immediate and how personal it was. We were doing what we could, but it was all at a remove, on screens, over the phone, packing crates and sending them out. Mefi let me see the human side of it like nothing else. That (profoundly) changed my view of the site, why they were important and what these sorts of things Metafilter was capable of.
posted by bonehead at 8:12 AM on September 12, 2014

I wonder if it would be worth going back through the thread and replacing dead links with links to the Wayback Machine wherever possible? You'd probably want to put an explanatory banner at the top of the page if you did so, but I think it would be that much more valuable as a historical document if possible. At the same time, I understand wanting to leave it exactly as it stands as well... Maybe some librarians with experience in preserving digital documents could weigh in?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:21 AM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

Threads like that are why I bristle when people get whiny about not being able to edit or delete their comments like at other forums and message boards.
posted by ODiV at 8:38 AM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]

Besides the main thread, there were numerous other related posts on 9/11/2011 and succeeding days.

On that third page following, which shows posts from part of September 13th, 44 of 49 FPPs shown are related to 9/11. So . . . much of the discussion & response happened via these later FPPs rather than in the main thread itself.

Just one example--this post details some of the panic and price gouging that happened around the country in the days following.

BTW these FPP pages from previous days aren't easy to search or find - google doesn't seem to index them, nor does MeFi's own search. The 9/11 post is currently on page 2421, so getting there by navigating by the Newer Posts/Older Posts links isn't very efficient. Note that the page links will change as newer posts are added to the MeFi front page, so depending on how long you are clicking the links after I post this, you may need to click the 'older posts' link a few or many times to get to the relevant days.
posted by flug at 9:01 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

From the current incarnation of http://www.shunn.net/okay/:
"I'm Okay" Registry
On September 11th, 2001, in the wake of the collapse of the Twin Towers, I created what may have been the first online "survivor registry"—a site where people could post their names to let unreachable friends and loved ones know they were okay. The site received over a million hits that day and the next, and while it may have outlived its usefulness as a tool, I present those lists of names here, along with other explanatory material, as a remembrance of how grief-stricken, helpless, and uncertain we all felt that tragic day.
posted by boo_radley at 9:16 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

flug, here are links to all the posts from Sept 11, Sept 12, Sept 13. Adjust the URL as needed for other dates.
posted by oakroom at 9:26 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

There's interesting pushback a few day's later against rebeccablood's comment here and she expands on her post a few entries down here:

my greatest fear now is war, and that our government will engage in a response that will exacerbate what is clearly a terrible and dangerous situation, making the US a more hated target than ever.

having said that, clearly those who wish to monitor US citizens' activities will now have a field day pushing through legislation that will make it legal to spy on them and to prevent them from being spied on.

we have laws that regulate when the government is permitted to read a citizen's mail or tap their phones. we have no such laws in place for computers, and now we may never.

these laws are never temporary measures: they are put in place and then either forgotten or their advocates point to their efficacy a few months or years down the road, and they are kept in place.

this is the only note I'll be posting in this thread. today I have finally begun crying. while this issue is important to me, I don't have the time or emotional energy to engage in a discussion about it at this time.
posted by rebeccablood at 3:14 PM on September 14, 2001 [+] [!] No other comments.

posted by Rumple at 10:24 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

9/11 was when I started really lurking on Metafilter. I got my first account soon after that historic thread, but lost/forgot my login info and didn't know enough to contact the mods over it, so this is technically my second username here.

Anyway, I was chatting with an online friend on the morning of 9/11. I'd had a personally harrowing incident where I'd gone to the store and a strange man started following me. It got to the point where I had to ask a store employee to come out with me to my car. I usually wouldn't have asked for the help, but a woman had been abducted from the same parking lot not long before so I was super aware just then. Naturally, I was a little out of sorts still, and my friend was fussing over me and making all the appropriately sympathetic comments, like friends do.

The tv was on at my place but muted when the first plane hit and the news broke in. I turned up the volume to try to figure out what was going on, because what they were reporting at that point just didn't seem to make any sense. I figured, which I think most of us did at first, that some idiot flying a little turbo prop plane hit a building, and I was saddened for the pilot, but irritated by the stupidity of it and wondering why that was getting national coverage.

And then we started to find out what had really happened: a commercial airliner full of passengers crashed into the World Trade Center and one of the towers was burning. I told my friend, stunned. We saw the second plane hit and the towers go down together. Everyone was scrambling for more information: Why was this happening, who was responsible?

Sometime in the midst of the chaos my friend sent me the link to the Metafilter 9/11 thread.

He was already a site member but not me; I didn't really "get" Metafilter before then. But reading that thread, where the updates were as fast or faster than the news coverage and real people were experiencing it all real-time, kept me glued to my monitor. That was the day I understood what Mefi was about and why it was so important to my friend, who was always sending me links he'd discovered here.

Ironically, though I stuck around, my friend decided to quit the site a few years back, and life moving on as it does, it's been a while now since I've heard anything from or about him.

Wonder if he was looking at that thread again yesterday, too, and remembering?
posted by misha at 10:32 AM on September 12, 2014

I am surprised that I only commented once in that thread, but I was too busy trying to figure out how I was going to get home from SFO when my flight (into Boston, that afternoon) was cancelled. I wound up finding a car on Craigslist which needed driving to Chicago, stayed with my then-boyfriend in Milwaukee for a few weeks and then took a Greyhound bus to Boston which was its own experience. My letter to Greyhound is still on the first page of Google when you look up Greyhound sucks, even thirteen years later.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:33 AM on September 12, 2014 [12 favorites]

Holy crap.

"I tell people my bus driver picked up a hitchhiker and they laugh like hell, then they shudder."

So true. Had that exact reaction while reading it.

Did Greyhound ever respond?
posted by zarq at 11:36 AM on September 12, 2014

They reimbursed me for the cost of my ticket, while admitting nothing.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:40 AM on September 12, 2014

Based on my Greyhound experiences, picking up the hitchhiker might have raised the tone considerably.

I gave him a patronising explanation about how it could only possibly be a light aircraft and how those buidlings were explicitly designed to withstand that kind of impact.

I did the same thing. There's some guy out there whose 9/11 story starts with, "Well, we heard the news, and this condescending asshole kept telling me it wasn't a big deal, but I knew better."
posted by Dip Flash at 11:42 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ugh. What assholes.
posted by zarq at 11:49 AM on September 12, 2014

I was giving a presentation yesterday (9/11) and I wanted to talk about spoken word and live poetry. I just happened to have seen this one on Button Poetry's Youtube channel, and given the anniversary and all the ISIS shit, it seemed apt.

My audience was uncomfortable, but dammit, we all should be.

(some NSFW language)
posted by emjaybee at 1:12 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I reread that yesterday when I saw mathowie's RT. What struck me the most was how few posts there were. From it being posted at 8:58 AM to the second tower falling at 10:08 AM, there were only 66 posts. We would have 1000+ over that span now.
posted by smackfu at 1:34 PM on September 12, 2014

Just had a really weird moment while reading cjorgensen's comment, because that's EXACTLY what I was thinking. I was even in the middle of searching my email to see if there were any mentions of Metafilter in it before 2007, which is also when I joined. (In my old Yahoo account, I found mentions going back to 2005, so maybe.) Either someone linked to it on Livejournal (possible, I had LJ friends who were/are on Metafilter) or ... yeah. It's possible that the feelings in the post match my own memories so viscerally that they've merged.

I usually just avoid the topic on 9/11 itself these days, because I'm totally put off by all the weepy and/or congratulatory 9/11 events that every little town seems to have, and the endless hashtags and graphics tweeted and posted by friends and family who weren't there and don't know anyone who was. I just...I don't get it. It was awful, but...huh.
posted by wintersweet at 1:48 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

wintersweet, I feel the same. If I do think about it, like I would if read that thread again, which I can't do, it's too much. Still too close. And I sure can't handle the crying-eagle approach of sentimentalizing it, like putting up a kneeling firefighter picture with "Never Forget" in ugly script font on Facebook. Which someone did.

So much of my perception of that time is colored by the horrifying plunge into war madness that followed. That all our protesting and cries of "Wait! No! This is wrong!" could not stop. That sick helplessness is still with me, though getting rid of Bush helped a little. But then, all those sick fucks are still around, still agitating and pulling strings and trying to crush absolutely everything good about my country and always always craving another war to give them cover to do it.

If not for the war, I might be able to just grieve one terrible thing that happened. As it is, I feel like it's still happening, so we can't heal from it.
posted by emjaybee at 2:24 PM on September 12, 2014 [9 favorites]

Reading that thread is weird. I woke up that morning because my mom was sobbing so loudly. Sitting on the futon in our apartment, watching our comically tiny trinitron TV. Me and my friend had a sleepover, and we were just waking up to start playing games on my n64 again.

We were 11. I remember us walking out, staring at the smoking and still un-collapsed tower on the tv, and just not getting it. We weren't upset at all because we were like "Oh, a plane hit a building. That sucks. Must've been an accident".

We went back in my room and kept playing mario kart... or whatever.

My mom screamed when the first tower fell. We came back out and watched it, and i watched the second tower fall.

We knew it was a big deal, but thought it was a big deal more like the Oklahoma city bombing or something where it wasn't like an era defining, land on the moon kind of massive event that would change everything. We were fucking 11, it just didn't really process.

It's still weird to think back on how much i didn't get it. I am sort of proud of my 11 year old self for getting in trouble at some summer camp assembly for pointing out, when one girl talked about how awful it was that several thousand people died, that the US has done worse things than that and there's been much worse terrorist attacks, but they were mostly against brown people so we didn't care(go little me!).

Here's a question: is there widespread celebrating in the West Bank?

Wow, have people been shitposting about this since the dawn of time? Like, can we go back and find old early 80s BBS postings like this?
posted by emptythought at 5:53 PM on September 12, 2014

can we go back and find old early 80s BBS postings like this?

But also, that "Palestinians celebrating" thing was:

- Not as random as it maybe seems - partly because the Second Intifada had started about a year prior, after a US-involved effort at peace talks had fallen apart, so the Palestinians were particularly salient in the US media at around that time, and images of people in the Middle East "celebrating in the streets" at some bad event befalling Americans had also been a thing recently before the attacks IIRC - I can't remember why. Even on the day-of, it seemed like an unfounded suggestion, but it wasn't a nationality picked out of a hat.

- Being oversold by US media that day because somebody had gotten a short video clip of this very anemic small group of people "celebrating"... and, being desperate for video, they played it over and over and over. You have to remember that we were all just glued to the TV that day, and after the initial two hour period (or so) there wasn't any more news.

We were all just waiting in horror to find out if more shoes would drop, and the news media were just running and re-running the same clips over and over, with no script, anchors just sitting at the desk and repeating themselves, talking to reporters on the phone who could only say "I'm here on such-and-such street, there's ash and smoke and people are running. I spoke to one man who says he saw [horrible thing]." and the anchor would be like "what's the feeling on the ground there?" or some shit. Then cut to a phone call with someone at a military base, who has nothing at all to report but they have to keep him talking for 2 minutes. Then to the DC correspondent, who has nothing to report, etc. Just, they were spinning their wheels keeping the show on the air, not having additional stuff to report, replaying the same clips and info over and over.

It went on like that for hours and hours. They would cut to this stupid "Palestinians celebrating" clip every 20 min's or hour or whatever, when they hit the "world reaction" part of the cycle, because they didn't have any other video. You can see people in the thread being annoyed and skeptical about the TV reports, like "really? this video of a celebration seems like it's about fifteen people and you don't have any more evidence of these supposed celebrations, even after you've had hours to gather it?"
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:34 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]

To be clear, when I say "it wasn't a nationality picked out of a hat", I mean it leapt to people's mind because there was an existing media storyline that matched this.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:36 PM on September 12, 2014

Were any comments deleted from that thread on 9/11 or anytime after?
posted by hal_c_on at 10:55 PM on September 12, 2014

Here's a question: is there widespread celebrating in the West Bank?

That comment was from ParisParamus.

Wow, have people been shitposting about this since the dawn of time?

That's pretty much what he did here.
posted by chillmost at 1:18 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Few news organizations were prioritizing online reporting—the New York Times had been publishing daily on the web for less than six years" is such a weird way for the article to frame this. Six years is forever in internet terms. And I can't think of a major news outlet that wasn't publishing daily.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:05 AM on September 13, 2014

They reimbursed me for the cost of my ticket, while admitting nothing.

So no platitudes and corporate speak for how they are sorry you felt you had a bad time?
posted by cjorgensen at 8:46 AM on September 13, 2014

That was one messed up day. For some reason, I chose to put Zen Arcade in the CD player instead of listening to NPR on the way to my art supply store in Chapel Hill. Grant Hart was imploring me to turn on the news.

I had to meet a salesman at the store an hour before the shop opened. The salesman pulls up shaking his fist out the window of his car. "FUCK ART SUPPLIES!" he shouted. I knew nothing. While he found parking, my mom, who remembers Pearl Harbor, called and said "WE ARE UNDER ATTACK!"

Tom (salesman) and I crouched around the radio. No cellphones but I had two landlines. He couldn't get through to any of his family in NYC and I couldn't reach my sister, who worked at the Wall Street Journal. Pick up the phone and dial, and it just beeped the busy signal. But I could call Maine and my mom could call out from there. Mom gradually got hold of everyone we were worried about.

Employees showed up, all of them with family in NYC, and I said we are closed but it's a paid day off and you kids are absolutely coming home with me tonight. I had prepped my house after the last hurricane left us out of everything for 10 days.

So we lock up and all go across the street to the brewpub that isn't usually open that early and sit at the bar with their employees and everyone has their mouth open as we all watch CNN.

I was temporarily separated at the time, but still co-owned that store with my ex. Her boyfriend was calling me every five minutes looking for her. Told him that I'd have her call when the planes started crashing into Chapel Hill. She was trying to deposit some UNC checks on the other side of town and found herself standing agog in the bank for an hour. I'd left a note on the door for her and she found us and we all started drinking. Ahem. Not wise.

7 people heading to my house piled in a Protege just after dark. I should not have been driving.

Airliners were supposed to be grounded, but there was one in an arc that contains the shabby old nuclear reactor a few miles south of my old house. We were all drunk, but now we were terrified too.

There wasn't any traffic. Everyone else had the sense to go home to get drunk. So we just stopped in the road and piled out, waiting for the second wave, waiting for the mushroom cloud, waiting to die. I said "This is a logical consequence of our foreign policies" and we huddled. Relationships were formed and reformed in those dark minutes.

We eventually figured out that the plane was an AWAC. It crossed the moon and we saw that disc on it's back and felt foolish.

So we get to my house and the neighbor who thought the world was going to end on New Years Eve, 1999 is fortifying again. "Ron? What is that? A Lewis gun?" It was.

Spotlights shining. Sandbags piled about, concrete in a mixer, firing positions where he could fight off eternal damnation or something. This is a respected software guy who told me that his house was empty because when his wife came back she was going to put every piece of furniture right back where it had been. Other neighbor told me she'd been gone for ten years.

The whole side of the house that faced that nutjob was glass. So we moved everything we needed to the lower level and I loaded my guns. We were no longer afraid of terrorism, or getting nuked, we were afraid of my fundamentalist Christian neighbor. I'm putting bullets into clips, thinking that I have not been out of the army long enough to avoid getting called up again but I am totally willing to go after these people and well, shit, this guy next door is as crazy as the ones who did this and fundamentalism just sucks on so many levels and none of them here who point fingers at the ones there who accept an extra prophet can see themselves in the fucking mirror and I don't want to live like this and fuckety-fuck, etcetera.

In the morning, I sent a skeleton crew into the art supply store. There was a line when they opened. People kept asking them why we were closed the previous day. I'd selected two who I thought could deal with that kind of clueless tripe, but they only made it through mid-afternoon before begging to close up.

The seven of us lived in my walk-out basement for a week. It was cozy and we bonded talking about what-ifs. I talk to all of them every 09/11.

I know NYC had it far worse, but the rest of us were scared too.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:58 AM on September 13, 2014 [10 favorites]

So no platitudes and corporate speak for how they are sorry you felt you had a bad time?

Good question. I can't find any email exchange with them which I think means this was me sending a note via their contact form and them sending me a letter in the mail with a $60 check. I do have an email exchange with the Greyhound webmaster when I complained about them taking down the notes from the press conference they gave after the driver was shot in September 2001. On the site in 2001 and 2002. Off the site by 2003.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:01 AM on September 13, 2014

Oh man, the image tag and ParisParamus. Those were the days.
posted by chunking express at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2014

I'll be honest - to my backpacking friends and me everything seemed like an overreaction. Because...terrorist attacks happen. All over the world. And to the U.S., in other parts of the world. And it had even happened here, before.

I had a similar reaction, though I wasn't out backpacking, and I've always wondered if it was because I didn't watch the towers fall, didn't watch any of the TV news at all, and experienced the whole thing via written news only, from the opposite side of the continent. It didn't hit me viscerally the way it seems to have done for so many of my fellow citizens, and in fact I came away from it feeling more alienated from and afraid of the Americans around me than any potential terrorists.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:12 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wow, that page sure brings back memories. That was before I really started lurking on Metafilter, but I still remember yelling at my housemate that a plane had hit the WTC - she had family in New Jersey and my brother was at Columbia - before rushing in to work.

And the grim, funeral atmosphere there, with people gathered around the TV as CNN played the video of the second airplane plunging into the building in slow motion, over and over and over again, or the collective gasp as the first tower finally gave in and crumpled and collapsed on itself, and knowing but not really grasping what those little specks were that seemed to fluttering off the building...
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:10 AM on September 16, 2014

I was in Oregon, conversing with some friends on ICQ, taking my morning coffee. One of them said, They ran a plane into the towers...turn on your TV. I did, and watched the spectacle play itself out: the second plane, an unbelievable thing to watch, then news about the Pentagon, and then the other plane crashed. The details came dribbling in. Like a bad movie, but with an accompanying blanket of horror. Those exposed to war have an awful, awful reflex, numbing clarity, foreshortened perspective, terrible focus on the now, and its gritty details. As you now know, this isn't limited to former infantrymen.

It was some days--maybe it was weeks--later, while I scrolled through a website that showed photos of an American embassy, somewhere, and the long line of people carrying flowers, moving slowly along the fence to add their bouquets, that my numbness finally broke, and I wept. It was the tears on their faces, I think. Even now, that's what brings tears to my own eyes.

The other is just too much.
posted by mule98J at 7:42 PM on September 22, 2014

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