I get it. Today’s a tough day. There is a raw, exposed nerve that remembers what happened 18 years ago. And as the years go by, you realize this pain–however you feel it–will never go away. At the same time, as the years go by, you realize social media is only going to make it worse. Between the faux patriotism, virtue signaling, and outright attacks on Muslims, social media can make you feel like it’s your American Duty to remember the anger, pain, and hopelessness. Well, if no one has told you today yet, it’s okay to forget.
If seeing smoke rising from the World Trade Center reminds you of how small and scared you were that day, it’s okay to forget.
If seeing the still image of a man falling from the World Trade Center makes your heart ache with the weight of the choice he had to make, it’s okay to forget.
If reading texts from passengers on Flight 93 makes you worry about losing your loved ones, it’s okay to forget.
If reading tweets about where someone was or what they were doing that morning makes you feel uneasy because someone is making a tragedy all about them, it’s okay to forget.
If seeing someone use that day to justify anti-Muslim sentiment makes you anxious about the future of this country, it’s okay to forget.
If realizing the America they taught us about in school doesn’t exist and never existed makes you feel like you can’t trust anything anymore, it’s okay to forget.
I get it. Everyone mourns in their own way. If you want to make a victim’s final text to his wife your profile picture on Facebook, if you want to regale the world with how you knew someone that knew someone who was supposed to be there that morning, or if you want to adorn your social media with the never forget motto, then fine, do your thing, man.
But don’t think for a moment that if you do none of those things that you are somehow lesser. Supporting pointless wars doesn’t make you an American. Blindly following garbage people in positions of power doesn’t make you an American. Hell, being American doesn’t make you a good person.
You want to be a good person? Be there for someone who is going through the same kind of pain you are. Think about what would help them. Think about what they need.
And if, after thinking, you decide they need to see another “last photo” of a person just before they went into the World Trade Center, never to be seen again, well, my friend, think again.