What were you saying on the morning of 9/11?
February 1, 2002 11:09 AM   Subscribe

What were you saying on the morning of 9/11? I have been very dissatisfied with this archive of the news on 9/11. I think this stuff has its place. But, it does not help us tell our grandkids how people were reacting that morning. For posterity's sake, I think it is much more important to record what happened on blogs and other online communities that morning. So, I am trying to collect online conversations that took place immediately after the news of the attacks broke on September 11. I have one link from here and one from Slashdot. Sorry if I am missing out on important ones. My hope is that this post will lead to more links to conversations. I am not interested in war blogs unless they have a reference to a conversation on the morning of 9/11.
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy (48 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have an interesting one. My friend and I were playing some photoshop tennis. We started on the 10th, so you can see an obvious change in tone after the attack.

bareSquare hosts realscott
posted by jragon at 11:23 AM on February 1, 2002

Well, I think the words "Holy ----!" and "This can't be real" were the first thoughts that came to my head.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 11:24 AM on February 1, 2002

Fark - scroll down to 9/11.
posted by Nothing at 11:30 AM on February 1, 2002

"Holy shit!...Holy shit!....Holy shit!.....Oh my God!....Holy shit!"

Thanks for that link, jragon. Those pictures speak volumes.
posted by jpoulos at 11:38 AM on February 1, 2002

I'm not sure it's useful to find out what people were saying on the morning of 9-11. It's usually going to be some variation on 'Holy, shit...'

24 hours later, here's what I was saying.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:41 AM on February 1, 2002

I was at work so I blogged most of it at the time. Eventually I just gave up pretending to do anything other than watch the news and dropped by the local pub. Unfortunately I have my time stamps turned off, but there is a comment (that is timestamped) at 11:14 "If this is linked to a foreign government then this the beginning of a war. If it's terrorists, they and there cause will be ground into dust. Rev. Brian Chapin [RevChapin@earthlink.net] • 09/11/01 11:14am"

Is this the sort of thing you're looking for? I can give you the timestamps if you want them.
posted by revbrian at 11:46 AM on February 1, 2002

When comedy boards get serious.
posted by bondcliff at 11:51 AM on February 1, 2002

Someone told me my post summed it up best: "whoa. whoa, fucking whoa."
posted by mathowie at 11:51 AM on February 1, 2002

On my site's forum we started out just trying to share information, since so many news sites were down and many of us were at work without access to televised news. I think the thread we were posting on captures a lot of the fear, confusion, and anger of that day and the aftermath.

People said a lot of ugly things in that thread, and I'm not exactly proud of everything that went on. However I feel I should keep the discussion posted exactly as it is to capture the moment in time - anger, tears, and all.
posted by Xkot at 11:52 AM on February 1, 2002

Shit, holy.

Also: Christ on Rye.
posted by Succa at 11:52 AM on February 1, 2002

Many, many moons ago, I worked as an assistant pastry chef at Windows on the World, North Tower. I still knew a few people there. I heard the news, turned on Fox News, and the first words out of my mouth were:

"Holy Fuck, Windows!"

Picked up the phone and dialed the main number from memory. No answer.
posted by ebarker at 11:55 AM on February 1, 2002

That's what you get for hitting the post button too soon. I must have gottten about ten instant messages while trying to dial the phone. I should try to put up those logs.
posted by ebarker at 11:58 AM on February 1, 2002

Here's what I said.

Here's what I said here.

Not too proud of that last one... but I'm not ashamed of it, either.
posted by UncleFes at 12:11 PM on February 1, 2002

One of the things I kept hearing that day was some variant of "this changes everything." I thought at the time that was naive, and already I feel vindicated. Maybe true for the Afghans, Beltway politics, the airline industry and of course, in a profound sense, for those who have lost friends, loved ones and colleagues, but from where I sit, very little seems to have changed.
posted by luser at 12:13 PM on February 1, 2002

Here's what I experienced that day (along with some pictures), from my apartment 4 blocks South of WTC...
posted by harrycaul at 12:18 PM on February 1, 2002

just read the whole mefi thread again.

watching the whole thing unfold again post by post left me feeling the same as that first day. Shaken. Needing fresh air and sunlight.

on sept. 9th my [now]wife and i had gone to Fray day in SF, and then 2 days later that sort of fun seemed so distant and unattainable.

i still wonder to this day if any MeFi users died that day, some trivial fascination with the concept that so many anonymous connections were severed that day.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:25 PM on February 1, 2002

two hours after, this was going through my head.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:27 PM on February 1, 2002

I panicked because I was afraid a good friend had died (which wasn't the case). I didn't get any work done on account of overwhelming dread for the future. Then I went out and got a new CD-RW drive.

(what was said: a lot of "oh fuck" and barely coherent gibbering/sobbing)
posted by sigma7 at 12:37 PM on February 1, 2002

I think the MeFi thread is where it's at. I have re-read it a few times since. That is where I got my news that day, as all the news sites were getting hammered.
posted by adampsyche at 12:47 PM on February 1, 2002

I watched it all happen live on TV as I was getting ready for work. Then when I heard that those planes flew out of Logan to CA, I panicked because my brother makes that route several times a month. It took forever to get through to his wife, but luckily he had flown out the day before. My mind basically shut down that day.

When I got home (early) from work, our cable TV went out. My normally calm wife called the cable company and yelled at them that this was "...the worst time in f--king television history for the f--king cable to go out!". It came back on about 5 minutes later.
posted by Sal Amander at 1:05 PM on February 1, 2002

I was teaching a lab, and one of my students was late. His excuse, somebody blew up the wtc. He had stretched the truth some, so I didn't even believe him until I couldn't get onto any of the news sites, and eventually had to get updates from a thread here. Best excuse I ever got. Then I went home and watched tv for 24 hours like everyone else.
posted by dig_duggler at 1:11 PM on February 1, 2002

I was saying "That's too small, throw it back" as we were fishing on Lac Seul in northern Ontario.

When we got back to the dock at the cabins that night the old guy who ran the place met us at the dock like he usually did, and told us "something terrible has happened". We all just stopped and looked at him, and he said "you should hear it from them, not me", thumbing over his shoulder at the Americans in camp that were running down to the dock. He started crying, and turned and walked away. I remember thinking it odd that some turning point could be measured by the foot as those guys came running towards us.

The next day we were up the road, stopped into a local store, and the lone woman behind the counter just froze(they know your American instantly up there, even before you speak) when she saw us. She stammered, and then finally just blurted "Have you heard?". We nodded our heads somberly, and she started to cry, and said "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, it's just horrible...". We got her calmed down a bit, reassuring her(and ourselves) that it would be OK, and she suddenly turned angry, saying "I had to move the damn newspapers because I couldn't stand the pictures on the front pages staring at me.".

We said "Papers?", turned the corner, and got plunged into the same nightmare visions the whole world had been watching for 24 hours.

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for those Canadians, their obvious distress, so close to the surface of their psyches beaten fragile by grievous insult, but first in their minds was an almost familial concern about our well being.

Spookiest thing to me, though, was not having watched that crazy footage live, when we got back we could tell who had sat frozen in front a TV all day. Seeing everyone in literal shock, like they had all just wandered out of a rollover car wreck, even a week later. It was(is?) like a Twilight Zone episode, and I was the astronaut that had returned home, but not home.

Sorry, this is off-topic, but I wasn't back until 9/16, and I guess I've never really had the right place to relate these stories before.
posted by dglynn at 1:24 PM on February 1, 2002

If you look at the entire list of sites in the 9/11 Web Archive, there are quite a few personal accounts in there, not just news and such. They did a pretty good job in capturing what different sections of the Web were up to in the days after the attacks, not just the news sites.

Here's my post from 9/11, which includes links to a bunch of weblogs and photo collections from people who were close to the events that occurred that day. A lot of the links are broken, but some still work. Another site I would direct you to is World New York. Grant did an excellent job of compiling people's stories from that day (can't find a direct link to his 9/11 stuff, sorry).
posted by jkottke at 1:24 PM on February 1, 2002

Not terribly eloquent, but here's my journal post from 9/11. We really did think it was a some idiot in a Cessina. I mean -- who would have thought?
posted by elfgirl at 1:41 PM on February 1, 2002

I didn't put anything in writing that day.

I normally get up at 8:30 (one of the perks of working the swing shift) and turn on the TV to check the news and the financial markets. My wife, who works from home early in the morning, hadn't bothered to turn the TV on that day, so she was unaware of the attack. I turned on CNN just in time to see tower #2 collapse.

I remember turning to her and saying "We're going to war". I called the office to see if I needed to come in (no stock market, no work) and was told to come in anyway.

My car needed gas that morning, so I stopped at the corner station, and the attendant was red-eyed from crying. I put my arms around her and hugged her for a minute.

I spent the rest of the day trying to make contact with the people in our William Street office. The relief I felt when one of them finally managed to get a cell phone call out was greater than anything I have ever experienced.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:46 PM on February 1, 2002

Here's mine. I remember sitting quietly on the bus on my way to work (in Seattle), blissfully unaware of all that had happened, listening to people argue over whether Michael Jordan was going to return to basketball.

I didn't make it into the door at work before I heard the news. Eep.
posted by Danelope at 3:01 PM on February 1, 2002

"Jesus, are we under attack?" was the first thing I posted and I basically didn't stop for 2 sleepless days. I had flipped on the tv getting ready for work thinking they were showing anniversary footage of the first bombing or something, until the horror hit me. Of course, intertwined with my horror was good old fashioned bloodthirst. Hey, I'm human.
posted by owillis at 3:18 PM on February 1, 2002

You can still contribute urls to the September 11 Internet Archive, either using that form OR a javascript button you can put in your Links bar. I've added dozens of sites, though they don't seem to be making it into the archive on a regular basis.

Didn't we get one of the Alexa guys here the last time we discussed this?
posted by dhartung at 3:40 PM on February 1, 2002

Didn't have time to chat, I was called to stand a post within 5 minutes..within 15 I was standing in front of my base in full riot gear.
I think my first thoughts were along the lines of "this is going to get ugly so quick.." and wondering how this would impact the world my son has to grow up in.
posted by tetsuo at 3:51 PM on February 1, 2002

It's odd. I didn't remember this until this thread came up, but I distinctly remember muttering or saying aloud: "God damn it; Israel." I didn't entirely know what I meant by that, and still don't. I didn't really mean it as anti-Zionist; more, I think, in some very general way, that the fire of the Middle East had ignited here.

I remember thinking (for what that's worth) that this was a new world now, one where things like this happen, and that I didn't want to go into that new world.
posted by argybarg at 4:47 PM on February 1, 2002

My brother called me to turn on the TV (he's a teacher)- much like the Oklahoma City Bombing, i turne my TV onto a scene of chaos and a lot of WTF??? I live in a dormatory w/ some crazy people. Not that morning. It was eary.
Over the next few days, i collected as many pictures of the events as i could find. I plan on saving all those for future use sometime,
posted by jmd82 at 4:54 PM on February 1, 2002

Uhm... I was mopping my kitchen. When it happened. *shrug* Very uncharacteristic of me, but for some reason I had woken up early and was on a cleaning kick about the house. My ex-wife called. I turned off the CD player. Picked up the phone. It didn't register at first. I guess I didn't believe her. She said turn on the TV. I saw the plane hit the second tower..

"Well that looks like a second plane..." Thanks, Charlie. Good old Charles Gibson stating the obvious.

My ex-wife then informed me that that was just a tape. That they were replaying it over and over on TV, but the worst had already happened. "Both towers are gone, Zach."

I'd never been to those towers. I've never stepped foot inside New York City in my entire life. And now I never will be able to see those towers. It wasn't until some time after I was off the phone that any of it sunk in. I then immersed myself in news footage and talking heads until the talking heads said too much immersion of the news footage was adversely affecting the the audience. Then I think I turned off the computer and went out for a drink with friends.

Where were you when JFK was assassinated? Well, I wasn't born yet. Where were you when the towers fell? Uhm... I was mopping. The kitchen.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:15 PM on February 1, 2002

I think it is much more important to record what happened on blogs and other online communities that morning.

I agree, and it was my first thought (apart from abject horror) when everything unfolded. I undertook a small project to collect links to entries written in online journals about Sept. 11. Links kept coming in that day, and soon I had well over 100 collected. (I later submitted many of them to the Sept. 11 archive linked above.)

I only listed entries written that day or very soon after, although of course the number of follow-up entries was exponentially larger. I also included mostly "entries," versus weblog tidbits and "holy shit" livejournal-esque posts... Making for a collection that falls somewhere between raw thought and considered reaction.

And like SandeepKrishnamurthy, I found I learned a lot about the world from these everyday reactions than I did from mainstream news sources.
posted by pzarquon at 5:43 PM on February 1, 2002

I remember reading the post really early that morning and not thinking anything about it.

Then I went to my Marketing class and the prof said that there were reports of planes crashing into the Whitehouse and Pentagon.

Needless to say, the whole lecture was a blur. I hopped on a bus first thing afterwards and booked it back to my apartment, trying to hold back tears. I remember these two black girls bawling their eyes out on the bus - I don't know how I didn't lose it there; I think I was still in shock.

I skipped classes the rest of the day and called my parents / brother / friends (it's a miracle AT&Ts network didn't crash), and stayed in front of the tv watching CNN all day, seething, thinking of what I would do to bin Laden if I got my hands on him.

I can remember it like yesterday.
posted by catatonic at 5:56 PM on February 1, 2002

I blogged a lot of stuff that day.

Mostly though I was talking to my girlfriend as she watched it all happen out her office window.

My first thought as she told me what had happened, was that some asshole tried to buzz a small plane between the towers.
posted by KnitWit at 5:59 PM on February 1, 2002

KitWit: My first thought as she told me what had happened, was that some asshole tried to buzz a small plane between the towers.

I thought the same thing. Some moron hoping to make it on "Jackass" or something. I'm not sure what it says about me, that my first assumption with many things is that it's the result of American stupidity, rather than some insidious, calculated plot. (Especially since I would've assumed the reverse when I was a teenager.)

I was railed upon for days immediately following Oklahoma City for not being 100 percent convinced it was a foreign terrorist act...

catatonic: I skipped classes the rest of the day and ... stayed in front of the tv watching CNN all day, seething, thinking of what I would do to bin Laden if I got my hands on him.

Not directed at you, catatonic, specifically, as given the brains of most MeFi folks I'm sure you did... But in day-to-day conversations more recently, I've heard the same sentiment... and I sincerely doubt most folks knew the difference between bin Laden and Apu from The Simpsons on Sept. 10.

In fact, bin Laden's name wasn't prominently tossed about as a likely suspect for several days, right? (Though, obviously, folks who track the players much more closely probably had him on their short list.)
posted by pzarquon at 6:31 PM on February 1, 2002

Naw, pzarquon. They were talking about him right away. If you remember, there was fighting in Kabul that night--rebel groups with a debt to pay to the Taliban. I was in a restaurant at around 4:00 EST, celebrating a friend's college graduation (the ceremony was canceled, sadly, and never rescheduled) when I saw the pictures from CNN. We in the restaurant could only assume that US bombs were falling on Afghanistan. We thought it was awfully early, but we weren't surprised. Within a couple of hours of the attack, Bin Laden was talked about..
posted by jpoulos at 6:52 PM on February 1, 2002

I don't have anything to link to, but I was late for work that morning, and when I walked in everybody was gathered around a co-worker's desk (he was the only one who could get a live newsfeed, everywhere was clogged). The first plane had hit a few minutes earlier, they still weren't sure what had happened. I didn't quite shrug it off, but I was thinking that it wasn't unprecedented, that the Empire State Building had been hit in the past. And then the second plane hit, and things started getting really wacky. The news was stuck in Breaking News Mode, and they weren't telling me anything they hadn't told me ten times already, so I came here (I'd been lurking for a very long time). I learned so much so quickly from MetaFilter, and it added a human element very different from terrorists and people jumping to their deaths and talking heads on TV and text-only CNN. So really one of the things that stood out that day (what I said then, and have said since) was what a difference it made to have something like MetaFilter, to hear from people who were in NYC, to hear people worrying about each other and trying to find out if anyone who reads the site had been hurt. And to have so many people looking for and sharing so much information so efficiently. That day was really scary, and the speed with which information was imparted and rumours were quashed here was incredible, and it went a long way toward comforting not just me, but my co-workers (I shouted the latest info from here out as it showed up, you guys were faster than TV). It helped to remind me that the human race has people in it who do things the polar opposite of crashing planes into buildings, and I needed reminding that day.
posted by biscotti at 7:10 PM on February 1, 2002

I said, well, nothing. I was the only one awake at my house, and I was too dumbfounded and transfixed to do much of anything for the first few minutes. After that, I woke up my roomies, watched too much CNN, and blogged(I pretty much dealt by writing) and drank for about a week straight, with intermittent campus events and occasional forays to class interspersed.

If you scroll up on the archive page I linked above, there are a lot of synopses and links to what people I read were saying. Might be helpful to you in your efforts, I guess.
posted by jdunn_entropy at 8:38 PM on February 1, 2002

I was asleep when it happened and found out from reading davezilla, actually. I stared at the TV most of the day. I wandered out some to see what others in my living center said. I remember we had a nice conversation about it in my American Lit class. I also remember our damn new university president refusing to cancel classes.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:51 PM on February 1, 2002

I had just gotten in my car to go into the office. I had NPR on the radio, in fact the station in New York about four blocks from the WTC site, and the announcer was stumbling through his words, saying something about a plane crashing into the WTC. I never made it more than a block from my house, turned right around and came home, turning CNN on seconds after the second plane hit. I called my fiancee at work to tell her that something had happened, but she didn't seem terribly interested at first. I watched CNN for about 20 minutes, but got bored with the newsporn. I really don't need to see the plane crash into the building another 27 times, thank you. I came upstairs, tuned the radio to WNYC (the AM station only; the FM station had been knocked off the air when its transmitter at the top of the WTC was destroyed with the rest of the building) and logged onto IRC.

I think by 10 am I had figured that bin Laden had something to do with it. Nobody else on IRC seemed convinced; they were coming up with all kinds of theories.
posted by geneablogy at 10:15 PM on February 1, 2002

In fact, bin Laden's name wasn't prominently tossed about as a likely suspect for several days, right?

Jpoulos is right...bin Laden was mentioned almost immediately. If you take a look at Google's Search Statistics from 9/11, "osama bin laden" was the #6 query that day, and the graph indicates significant search activity on his name almost from the get-go.
posted by jkottke at 10:32 PM on February 1, 2002

I was on the Stadium Express bus, in the parking lot, heading to campus. I was talking to a girl in my class and she said "Hey, did you hear what happened in New York? A plane crashed into the World Trade Center." I said "Holy shit, you're kidding!" But she wasn't. I got bits and pieces of the story from the people on the bus who had seen it on TV. Couldn't concentrate at all in my class...all I did was wonder about my friends in New York and Washington and hope they were all right. Ran to the computer lab after class ended...went to CNN and to a few other sites. I had a paper due that day which I was trying to write but I could not focus on it.

Here is what I wrote in my journal that evening.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:56 PM on February 1, 2002

Ah... jpoulos, jkottke, you're quite right. My memory's failing me. After you mentioned the explosions in Kabul, I remembered... bin Laden was definitely Suspect Number One by that point, and that was less than a day after the attacks.

In response to the original question, "What were you saying on the morning of 9/11?" Actually, I (and most folks in Hawaii, and anywhere further West) had a somewhat different experience. Everything had happened by the time we were waking up. Much as the 'newsporn' replayed the events, it was important for us, as it was breaking.

Reading recaps (and watching the news clips on the Television Archive linked a couple of days ago) is the best way I have to try and see how most of my countrypeople experienced those first few hours. I, instead, had to digest it all at once, for better or worse.

I remember getting to work and being the first person in some cases to mention it. The looks of absolute incredulity on their faces when I rattled off the basic facts is still burned in my mind. I couldn't be serious, right? I remember one intern rushed immediately to call relatives in New York (who were okay) - even though, from her relatives' perspective, several hours had passed. There was an element of "Where the hell have you been?" in their response.
posted by pzarquon at 11:09 PM on February 1, 2002

I live on the West Coast. My wife and I were in bed at 7:30 a.m. when her daughter called and said, "The Palestinians blew up the World Trade Center." Yeah, sure they did, I thought. I didn't think there was any way that could be done. Those buildings were so huge, and this wasn't the first time someone had tried to destroy them. I figured maybe there was some damage, but blown up? Couldn't be.

Then I got up and turned on CNN, just in time to see a replay of the second tower collapsing (or was it the first? Funny, I don't remember). I said something profane and not very original, then watched for several hours before I went in to help design the special edition my paper did that afternoon. Then we put out the regular paper, and I was really glad to be at work, to have something to do besides keep watching the same video over and over again. We had so much to do, there wasn't a lot of time to be depressed or furious.
posted by diddlegnome at 12:23 AM on February 2, 2002

i woke up pretty late that day, as i didn't have to be at work until 12... as soon as my alarm clock went off, i switched on my computer to check my mail and quickly see what happened while i slept, on metafilter. saw the thread. read it all.. reloaded... read it all again. said "holy shit." ran to my tv, turned on cnn, and watched the craziness. was late to work. got off early, came back home, and read more mefi...
posted by lotsofno at 4:51 AM on February 2, 2002

i also had to be at work at noon that day, about a mile uptown from the wtc, and ended up having these incredible aol conversations from home with people who were on their way into manhattan when it happened, or escaped downtown. they're too personal to share, but i found that saving that kind of thing was really therapeutic later on. it's incredible to be able to read about so many people's experiences online, but sometimes it's like it's just too much to take in. i get a lot more emotional reading my friends reactions that day, witnessing the second crash and reacting to the fall of the towers, then i do reading about other people's experiences, no matter how much more horrific they are.
posted by captain obvious at 7:50 AM on February 4, 2002

Here is what I first posted. I was unable to post anything during the day. I didn't have cable, so I was sitting in my studio listening to NPR on a clock radio. I had to do something, I was so upset, but doing anything artistic was completely impossible, so I took apart my sewing machine and fixed the wiring, crying the whole time. Later that evening, a friend and I had pizza at Frank Pepe's in New Haven and then went to a candlelight vigil at Cross Campus at Yale. President Levin said a few words, then everyone was silent. Cross Campus was packed with people, most of whom look like undergrad freshmen and sophmores. In the distance, the Harkness Carillon played a slow and mornful tune and then everyone silently filed away. We carried our candles to the Green, where they finally went out. We visited Battel Chapel and then Center Church before heading home. I spent the next two days almost sleepless, glude to the net and the radio. In the early hours of the 12th I wrote this stream of consciousness thing.

Then in the wee hours of September 16th, I finished something I had begun writing on the 12th, after the sleepless, fear-driven delirium had begun to really set in. The little sleep I did get was clouded by dreams of Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey". I woke in a panic and wrote it down and posted it.

And for your information, Yale Law School has a massive and amazing collection of transcripts and documents of every significant statement by US government leaders and transcripts of all the Congressional actions related to the events of 9/11. Definately check it out.
posted by evanizer at 11:47 PM on February 5, 2002

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