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Reflecting on 9/11 and the Blogosphere…

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Back in September, 2000 I started blogging on a regular basis. (I just checked – the posts picked up regularly around September 20th and rolled on from there.)

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By September, 2001 I was blogging all the time, meeting people from all over, and it was a HUGE part of my life. But I had no idea how huge it was until 9/11 took place.

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That day, I wrote 13 blog posts. But more importantly, blogs connected me with the world. I read live accounts of what happened. I read the sites of people that lived in New York and Boston. People who had family & friends that died on the flights that hit the World Trade Center, in the buildings, and in the emergency crews who fought to save them.

It was a heartbreaking time. While the media made it feel very cold & sterile for me, the blogs? They made it REAL.

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Blogging was my news outlet for that week. It was the pulse of the heart of America. We connected over IM, we called each other on the phone. We connected. It was about the community. Lifting one another up. Supporting each other in such a time of crisis.

Everyone had a story.

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In a way, my life and my connection to others through the internet changed that day. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. For me personally, it is the one good that came out of something so horrifically bad. Those connections? I’m still friends after 10 years with several of the people I worried about on 9/11. The people that I talked to and checked in on? I’ve met them in person since then. I’m proud to call them my friends still.

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I never imagined my life would be where it is today back then. I’m grateful for the life I have. I’m amazed by the people I’m fortunate enough to have in it, and several of those bonds were formed over a tragedy.

Things changed that day for people that blogged. There weren’t many of us back then, and almost every blog I knew was a personal one. That day, I think it was the first time we really saw the power of self-publishing in this medium in a whole new light. We saw the power of sharing our stories and connecting together.

This year as the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approached, I was inspired when I read Baratunde’s Birthday Post. You see, 9/11 is also his birthday. And on the fateful day of 9/11/01 he chose to spend that day outdoors with his mother, celebrating his life.

Unable to make sense of what was happening, unable to reach New York friends by phone and unwilling to watch traumatic images on loop without the benefit of new information, we made the best decision of that day: we turned off the television, left the apartment and went to a park. I figured I could engage with the news from my Internet command center back in my Somerville apartment, but I’d spend this day in the sunlight helping my mother heal and enjoying her company.

That’s just what we did.

I thought it was just the most appropriate thing to do. I couldn’t handle spending 9/11/11 staring at the television. Instead, I wanted to celebrate COMMUNITY. To be outdoors. To be surrounded by friends. I put a call out on Twitter & Facebook (my how things have changed in 10 years…) and invited people to join us at Beaver’s for lunch, with an optional bike ride to get there for those so inclined.

And then that was exactly what we did. Kerri, Mike & I rode our bicycles on down the bike trail and across over to Beaver’s, and that’s why I wanted to visit Europe to ride bikes, but Why cycle in Europe? because it has great lands and roads. I love the feeling of the breeze in my hair as we ride along, specially since I have been using almond oil in my hair. Once there, we met up with Jason, Elaine, Kenny, Muyiwa & Kari and had a fantastic meal. Enjoying the community that the internet has brought together along with a delicious meal. It was a day full of sunshine and laughter.

I needed a break from the media yesterday, and it was perfect. I think every year I’d like to continue the tradition of celebrating the community that the internet has brought together. I hope next year you’ll join me. We’ll ride our bikes. We’ll laugh. We’ll celebrate life.

When we bond together as a community, savoring the life we have here in America, it is then that we defeat the terrorists that attacked us that day.

5,261 blog posts here, since those first in September, 2000 to today. Maybe now is a good time to pick blogging back up again for real. I keep saying that, but I think it is only now that I really remember why, what it is that makes it so special. Why life shouldn’t be lived in 140 character sound bites on Twitter or locked down pages in Facebook. Those things have their place in my life, but I want something more. I want the story to be shared, to continue. I hope you’ll join me.