Every year on September 11th, Facebook users unite to “Never Forget” and pay tribute to those who lost their lives in 2001. It’s often a nice way for a network of people to feel connected and share memories, be they somber, reflective, or even uplifting. However, as the years pass by, many other things have happened (and will continue to happen) that are of significant importance, as well. Births, deaths, anniversaries, new milestones and occasions to remember — these are all worth mentioning on Facebook, too, maybe, or aren’t they? In my opinion, it’s all about how a person relays the information. I’ve seen a lot of 9/11 birthdayjackings over the years, and those almost never feel appropriate to me. Granted, my own mom’s birthday is today, so I understand the impulse to express joy and excitement, especially over a small child’s special day. But I’m still not convinced that most people are doing it right.
There’s no rulebook for how to act on social media on a holiday, even if that holiday is commemorating a tragic day in the not-too-distance past. I’m not going to say that a person shouldn’t reflect on the day for reasons other than the Towers. If you had a baby that day, got married, or even started a new job, by all means, share away! But maybe keep the thousands of lives that were lost out of your status update. Maybe don’t hijack a friend’s holiday tribute to write a unique tribute of your own. There are classy ways of posting about all of these things that don’t involve mentioning the reason this day is observed. We already know. And yet, despite that fact, some people choose to ignore that little voice saying, “Not now,” or, “Write it in a separate update.” It could be because they think it’s important to acknowledge the day so no one on Facebook will think they’ve somehow forgotten 9/11. Or it could be because they want their update to be seen, and they know if they mention 9/11 it will have a higher chance of showing up in users’ feeds. (Ahh, Facebook algorithms!) Or, it could just be that they’re self-obsessed mommyjackers. Take this example from two years ago that I never posted:
See what I mean? In the words of Nat King Cole, that ain’t right.
Here are some other examples of ways parents use social media on September 11th to symbolically honor the day, along with a few other things:
1. To Show Off Their Cute Baby
Tyler is a baby whose sole job in life right now is to be cute. Jenny is a mom who enjoys dressing up her baby on holidays. These two things work well together on MOST holidays, but I think this time she could’ve just used the Stars and Stripes ensemble for the Fourth of July. Yes, in a sense September 11th is a patriotic holiday, but really, Jenny’s just looking for an excuse to post pictures of her cute baby all dressed up. If anything, one image would’ve done the trick.
2. To Say A “Special Prayer” A.K.A. Daddyjack
Oh, Red. You’re such a sweet dad for writing this lovely note to your son, who doesn’t have a Facebook account and wouldn’t be allowed to use it if he did. If only Red had opted to write this message to his 5-year-old on his OWN wall, I would’ve excused the merging of “tragic-day-meets-special little boy prayer.” But as it is, this thoughtful update is nothing more than a random daddyjack on a friend’s photo of the Twin Tower beams. Adding the note about his “super little man” kinda takes it over the top.
3. To Remember Happy (Birth)Days
Once again: Sincere update? Check! Good-natured birthday wishes extended to a baby who can’t read? Check! Aunt Britt’s got her heart in the right place, but can’t she just wish her nephew a happy birthday in person or on Skype or by sending him a onesie that says “My Aunt Thinks I Rock!”? Why “blend” two somewhat incongruous thoughts about the day into one awkward update? Nothing she says is inappropriate or untrue, and yet, something about it doesn’t feel right.
4. To Remember Anniversaries And Conceptions
I’m just going to put this out there: I know A. and F. had no idea when they got married 14 years ago that their anniversary would forever be overshadowed by this sad day, BUT it’s not ALWAYS necessary to express one’s love for his/her partner on Facebook. That said, this status update would have come across better if it didn’t include the maudlin and almost self-congratulatory part about the “vows” they took, celebrating their anniversary “with love and ease, honoring those that fell” on 9/11, and it definitely would have sounded better if she hadn’t worked in a conception mention. Even if their kid was conceived on September 11th, it’s not really important to anyone else. It’s personal, just like their relationship. Nothing against the love nest A. and F. have built over the years, but reading this update (or any update like this) makes me wanna barf.
5. To Remember Yesterday
Last but not least, we have Beau, whose wife Caitlin just had a baby yesterday, which was already mentioned on Facebook (yesterday). Never forget. But, in case you already did, now you can remember.