Articles

10 Years After, I Barely Watch TV

In Tamás' Posts, Warm Up on September 11, 2011 by Tamás

It just occurred to me that I am currently in the very room I was in 10 years ago, the room where I witnessed 9/11.

A lot has happened in between and I actually only returned here yesterday, after having spent the 2nd half of these ten years elsewhere. 9/11 has a personal dimension for me. Good friends of mine were on holiday in New York at the time. As soon as I saw the footage on TV, I called one of my friends’ mothers only to learn that she knew they had planned to go on top of the World Trade Center that day. We took some mild comfort in the fact that the planes hit early in the morning, and that it would be rather unlikely that teenagers with a love for night outs should have headed to the WTC so early in the day. But it was not until the next day that we heard from them and were truly relieved.

For me, 9/11 was the last big catastrophe of the Television era. The fall of the towers embodies numerous ruptures and transitions, ends and beginnings. I think the end of TV as the fastest news source is among them. As the media are full with stories about memory and perception today, the most common scenario seems to be that people got phone calls from friends or family, telling them to turn on the TV. I, too, saw 9/11 on TV, live, as it happened. I spent countless hours in the following days watching CNN, it was term break so I could afford to. Actually, I could not really. I think I even asked for an extension on a paper deadline at the end of September on account of having been addicted to the news. I had internet at home then, but TV still felt like the most immediate news source to me. I cannot say with certainty why that was, too much time has passed. I think most of the big news sites couldn’t handle traffic that day, but I don’t really remember. It’s obvious though that the Internet was not as instant, dominant and ubiquitous as it is today.

During all the major catastrophes that came afterwards (2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, Katrina, Fukushima, Oslo Killings…), the internet was my primary source of information. And this trend is only accelerating. With the advent of Twitter, everything else seems slow. Sometimes I count the minutes before major German news sites run a story that I saw trending on Twitter. I think it took 25 minutes for them to issue a breaking news alert for the death of Amy Winehouse. Oh boy, now I have 9/11 and Amy Winehouse’s death in one paragraph. But well, such is lazy Sunday afternoon writing, upstairs in my family’s house.

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