Of all the days for people to post something maudlin or contemplative on social media, September 11th ranks right near the top. This is a day that the majority people on social media were alive to bear witness to the acts that took place in 2001, and certainly anyone who qualifies as a parent today was aware of the events as they unfolded in real time. We all share this common link -- a national tragedy occurred, and we were forever changed as a country. You won't need to go further than Facebook to know that much, because every single year there's an outpouring of status updates in reflection of the symbolic day and what it represents.
For some people, it represents a day of horror (and let's not forget the ongoing horror for the 70,000+ people who have been sick or died as a result of breathing the toxic dust in the aftermath). For a lot of other people, the day has come to represent something positive, because life went on and marriages and babies and job promotions all came into the picture, shifting the tone of the day. Is it wrong to get married on September 11th, or give birth, or even just celebrate something in good cheer? Of course not! As I've mentioned in previous 9/11 posts, my own mom's birthday is today, and she would like nothing more than to focus on the positive aspects of the day, despite the tragedy that will always overshadow it.
The problem is, people feel an obligation to include a 9/11 tribute in their updates, regardless of what else they're posting about. For instance, if a child was born on September 11th literally any year since 2001, that child is a "light of hope."
Hey Cheryl, way to make it about you! Guess what? That rainbow image that was going around yesterday has absolutely nothing to do with you or your progeny, so maybe now just isn't the time to mention him? It'd be one thing if the child was actually born on 9/11/01 in the midst of all the sadness and chaos, particularly if he was born in New York City. But as it is, he just so happened to get delivered on September 11th, and there's nothing particularly remarkable about that.
That sentiment echoes in my own head each year as I go through dozens of 9/11 submissions that range from 'mildly obnoxious' to 'this asshole cannot be serious right now.' I can't even post them all, I get so many. And as this example from last year proves, it's not only the parents who take their "tributes" a little over-the-top:
Okay, Auntie Martyr, we get it. You became an aunt on 9/11/03. Big fucking deal. You're allowed to say 'happy birthday' to your nephew without mentioning the totally insane dichotomy between what happened on 9/11/01 and what happened two years later. Really. It's cool.
This narcissistic approach to 9/11 might be best mocked on the satirical site Clickhole, which published a post last year called '13 Years After 9/11, And I’m In The Best Shape Of My Life.' The writer is really no different from the parents in my STFU, Parents submissions, sincerely explaining, "The past 13 years have not been easy for our country. We’ve been through war and economic crises, and dealt with the constantly looming specter of terror. But now, on the 13th anniversary of September 11, I’m slimmer, in better shape, and have more energy than ever." High-fives all around! It's this tone deaf attitude combined with an illogical tie-in with the symbolic nature of the day that maintains my passion for writing about this idiocy year in and year out.
I'm not trying to tell people how to mourn, pay tribute, or express their feelings about September 11th so much as clue in certain parents that this day is not about you, your 'higher role' as a parent, or your kid. Sorry. Feel free to continue posting convoluted updates that merge a variety of events together if you wish, but just know that it's possible NOT to do that, too, and your friends might even appreciate the separation of ideas. September 11th may be 14 years in the past, but there's a tactful way to reflect without focusing on yourself and all the rad shit you've been up to ever since. To that end, let's take a look at some examples of status updates that could've gone in the right direction, or been posted on another day, but weren't. Parents, here's what NOT to post on Facebook on 9/11.
1. Your Baby Announcement (If It's Done Like This)
Get it? He's holding a glass of wine, and she's holding a Slurpee. Super funzy and pretty straightforward as far as Facebook baby announcements are concerned, but WHY did they choose to write this post on September 11th and mention "celebrating lives passed"?? No one is really "celebrating" the people who perished so much as mourning their absence. This wasn't some fluke event that happened 150 years ago and now we all celebrate our ancestors that died on the Oregon Trail or whatever. The people whose lives were lost were crucial members of families that still cope with that loss every day. Did Melissa and John really think this was the best way to kick off their baby posting blitz on social media? Someone should've been like, "Wait. I have an idea: Let's either post the baby announcement without mentioning the thousands of people who died on 9/11, OR just wait until tomorrow." Oh well. Congrats, though, you guys.
2. All About Your Baby
Oh woe is Amber!! This day is just so friggin' HORRIFIC, the only way her faith can be properly restored is to look into the (big, black) eyes of her tiny son and feel complete relief that indeed, there is a God. If there wasn't a God, how did she give birth to the most (Satanic-looking) adorable baby on the entire planet? A baby that causes her to feel so much love and so much resolution in her striving to be a good mother, she simply can't help but connect his perfect little presence with the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11th. God is good! Never forget!
Nothing like reaching for every single annoying parenting habit on Facebook in a single update! Exploiting baby "Xavier" in order to appear appropriately patriotic? Check! Making a day of remembrance for others a day of "remembrance" for last year, when Xavier was all dressed up in his American best? Check! Using Timehop to document that ever-important and adorable memory, and then posting it on September 11th with a #tbt hashtag? Check, check! I'm genuinely confused as to whether we are supposed to Never Forget the thousands of people who died on 9/11, or Never Forget this special moment in history when Xavier was lookin' so stinkin' cute in his USA outfit. Either way, don't worry, Blue. I won't forget. I never forget a faux pas this birdbrained.
3. Your Self-Indulgent Paranoia (On A Baby-Wearing Fan Page, No Less)
If you're wondering what 'Tula Love' is, it's a Facebook page where parents share their love of the Tula baby carrier. In other words, a random page where fans of a baby product share tips, tricks, and photos of themselves wearing their babies. Which is why it makes no fucking sense for Lauren to post her bizarre "something going to happen because it's 9/11 mambo Jambo" update in the first place. But aside from that paranoid-yet-honest (and honestly moronic) statement -- and aside from the fact that the expression is "mumbo jumbo," not "mambo Jambo" which sounds like something on a frozen yogurt menu -- what bothers the good and unassuming members of the Tula Love Facebook page is Lauren's outré narrative use of emoji.
After being told in so many words that her gauche (and one could say, racist) use of emoji is unwarranted, not to mention unwelcome on a chill Facebook page about baby carriers, Lauren's logical response is to taunt her fellow page members with the classic "WAHH!" Something tells me Lauren has gone through much of her life encountering resistance to her blatant ignorance, but gosh darnit she pushes through it every time. Way to stay true to yourself, Lauren. Don't let anyone tell you when you're being offensively closed-minded! That'll show 'em.
4. Your Boinking And Baby Conception
I don't know if you can still hear the sounds of my barfing off in the distance when reading the line, "Drawn together by the highly charged emotions of the day, we took refuge in each other that night," but rest assured, they're there. While I understand why Eric wants to share this meaningful story with his social network, to be quite honest, I wouldn't want to hear this sappy anecdote at a dinner party, as an audience member at a 'People Fucking On 9/11' conference, OR on Facebook. There is no time that I would want to know this information, and I especially don't want it told to me with the words "took refuge." Why are some people so eager to tell their friends and family about the details of their sex life, even when it creates another little being? I'd rather hear about a baby's constipation than hear about the night he was conceived, so in the future, maybe Eric should just keep this story between him and his wife as they "take refuge in each other" on this special anniversary of hypothetical conception.
5. Your Mawkish Tributes With A Twist
Vicky for President! What a gem of a gal. She's got her heart in the right place, giving shout outs to virtually everyone who aided in the 9/11 recovery and safety of our precious American soil. She even manages to give a shout out to her unborn baby, because God bless America, that little stinker is still procrastinating on being born! Vicky stuffs a lot of nice thoughts into one status update, but she still can't rein in her ADD enough to keep it *just* about the World Trade Center attacks. That's what pregnancy brain'll do to ya, amirite or amirite?!? One minute you're graciously thanking the first responders and the people who serve in the military to protect the nation, and the next, you're like, "Knock knock. Who's home? A fetus that needs to be born already!!"
Haha. Oh, President Vicky. At least she's proven to be a solid American who has Never, Ever Forgotten 9/11 (and knows none of us should). Then again, it's only been 14 years. I've had hair ties for longer than that, so yeah, 9/11 is still pretty fresh on the mind. To everyone out there who "hasn't forgotten" (and that should be every single human who is over the age of 20) kudos to you. But don't feel the need to spell it out on Facebook if you're not in the mood, or if you're really thinking about something else. We've all moved on in our own ways, and we're all still commemorative in our own ways, too. Social media doesn't have to be part of the process. #neverforget #comeonGavin #GodblessAmerica