9/11 memorized by media; for who actually?

On: September 11, 2011
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About Anne Laurine Stadermann
Master student New Media at the University of Amsterdam since September 2011. Gratuated (Bachelor) on Film-, Television and Communication Studies at University of Utrecht in June 2011.


This blog is posted on September the 9th. A date which as everyone knows is related to the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Television, news papers and online blogs are showing us pictures, clips and other footage which refers to this horrible disaster ten years ago. Of course it’s quite logical we memorize all the people who died at Ground Zero, and think of all the people which have lost there loved ones. Although the information the media distributes on 9/11 about the disaster isn’t any news anymore since 2001. Nevertheless in the past ten years there is been no resistance to all this ‘old’ information which has been broadcast. Apparently at least till now, there were enough needs for this.

Nonetheless this year on 9/11 the cultural and political commentator Touré pointed out in a in the live television show with Dylan Ratigan how he thinks media ‘uses’  9/11 since 2001 to earn money with it. In the video below Touré gives his vision on how media gives us an unnecessary overload of 9/11- information.

In my opinion it’s not only moving to hear Touré as a New York citizen talking about this, the way he points out media can be used is also very interesting.

It seems to be the case that media can, next to advertising or distribution of information, also been used for creating a massive feeling of global connectivity. Eventually it’s clear that we all feel real sorry for all the 9/11 victims. The media strengths (despite of the spatial distance) this feeling of connectivity with those people, by spreading and presenting us all these (meanwhile ten year old) terrible clips and images over and over again.

As the video above shows, for some people this way of memorizing is not satisfying anymore, indeed it makes them angry. Although I understand what Touré says, I think for a lot a people the overload of ‘old information’ media gives us since 2001 is getting annoying for different reasons. Cause as philosopher Martin Heidegger puts this, ‘with all the new technologies people nowadays are depending more and more on there environment’. Heidegger compares individuals getting more and more related to each other by the way technology develops and does the same. Following the (old) classical ontology, the highest way of achieving perfection for a technical device is the degree in which the device is able to function apart from other devices. In other words, the more ‘independent’ a technological device operate, the higher the value of its use. With the new technology this standard has been changed. Examples from this earlier period were the washing machine, and the typing machine. This devices are functioning apart from each other and connecting these two has never been required. Nowadays a technological device achieves the highest value when it’s able to cooperate with other devices. Like all the Apple devices; I-Mac, I-phone, I-pod etc. They are all able to be connected to each other and by that can create a network of devices. I suppose from this follows the thesis people are adapting themselves to the technological devices. People are more and more connected by the consequences of new media and technologies, which makes them more subsidiary and dependent to each other as-well as to devices. When now we turn back to the 9/11 media case as described above, we see the impact the media have on this isn’t very surprising. The 9/11 disaster can been seen as one with an incredible impact because of the large number of people which eventually got involved and died. The large airplanes with many people on board and the twin tours which even more people working in it on the moment of the crash, they can both be seen as great technological inventions of the twentieth century. Inventions of which we as people are proud of, bud in this case were used in all the wrong ways with became a real nightmare. So although people feel the need to memorize there lost ones and thereby memorize the terrible attack which took place ten years ago from now, people are also getting tiered of being remembered to the fact these kind of horrible disasters can take place in our technological society. As Tourné describes this in the video above,

New Yorkers aren’t the same citizens since the planes crashed in there buildings. They never feel free, and totally safe anymore. When there on airports everybody has to proof he won’t do any harm because everybody is a potential terrorist when he came in” (Touré 2011)

I think this is not only applying to Americans bud also to us as Europeans. For example this summer I flew a few times between different airports and countries in Europe. On every airport there was a lot of security, which I understand is for our safety. Bud the large number of security guards, the enormous size of there machine guns, and dark colors of their military uniforms weren’t really giving me the Holiday-vibe. By the time you’re on a plane it’s almost impossible the thought of terrorism isn’t crept trough your mind.

So maybe a way to describe this kind of consequences is by referring to Heidegger(1994) who tells us to be aware of our high level of dependency nowadays. Perhaps we, and especially our media, has to find new ways of memorizing 9/11 for the next years. I guess the first step has to come from this media field, which has to be more aware of the key role they play at the growing aversion against memorizing as it takes place by media today.

Video source


  • IJsseling, Samuel. 1994 ‘Het wezen van de techniek bij Martin Heidegger’. In: Wieler, Raoul & Hoelemans, Dirk(red.), Gegrepen door Techniek, 21-41. Kapellen: Uitgeverij Pelckmans: p.31

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