Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 sentimentality and why it doesn't work.

Warning, here's a rant.

It's the tenth year anniversary of 9/11, the tragedy where 3,000 people lost their lives during the World Trade Center terrorist attack.  In comes all of the memorials from people who lost loved ones, who saw the crash, who were directly impacted; and here comes everyone else.  The moments of abject silence, of Facebook statuses, the "it is such a horrible event look I'm tearing up" type of stuff.

The Japanese Tohoku tsunami has 20,000 dead or missing; civilian casualties in Iraq amount to between 102,000 and 112,000; the Mexican drug war has a cold body count of 34,600 (from January; it's well over that now).  Why don't we commemorate these events?  Simple, they're not American.  They're not a national interest.

So when we're giving a "moment of silence to all of those lives lost," we don't care about body count.  We care about the fact that there were American lives in there.  That our national culture tells us to mourn, because in the end, it's a national interest, and we are national citizens.

Of course, there are people who've legitimately been affected.  But that's not many of us.  Most of the people who mourn are doing it to reap the social benefits (i.e. not looking like a jerk) without actually giving a shit.  And of course there are people who are in the middle, who feel sympathetic but can't show it.  It's hard to differentiate between the three, so don't go attacking anyone.

One way to figure it out, though.  People who don't feel sympathetic but feel obligated to mourn for them anyways.  If they can't find anything to show how much they mourn for the deceased, they will aggressively push other people into mourning for the deceased.  Same goes for people who have black friends to prove they're not racist, or people who talk about going back in time to kill Hitler, or self-proclaimed environmentalists that don't do anything but talk about greenhouse gases to other people so they can hide behind the guise "I'm doing something because I'm spreading the word!"  That is fundamentally sick.

One more thing.  This 9/11 Memorial Facebook App helps you commemorate people who died.  But what if you don't actually care and you just want to look like you do?  This app has that handled, too.

I have no words.
Oh, cool.  I can update my profile picture as a visual representation to everyone that I CARE ABOUT THOSE WHO DIED AND AM NOT JUST BEING A SHEEP AND GOING WITH IT.  Even better, I can commemorate a specific person that died.  "But I don't know anyone that died!"  That's perfectly fine, this app rolls a 3,000-sided dice and CHOOSES A RANDOM PERSON TO COMMEMORATE WITH NO EFFORT ON YOUR PART.

Also did you just market the death of 3,000 people?

And just as an addendum:

There's a thing called a Virtual Funeral circulating around Taiwan and I think some other eastern countries.  The idea is, if a relative of yours dies, and you don't have time to commemorate them, they have this website, see.  And you click "Create Grave" and type in their name.  And you put your cursor on the flowers, and drag them to your relative's grave.  And then you can write "Rest In Peace" on it.

Why use this?  Easy.  So when people say "hey why didn't you go to your mom's funeral" you can say "I'm too busy to, but I still put forth the effort by making a grave for them on this website" and they'll be all "ah okay well at least you did something."

The sole purpose of this funeral site, as well as the 9/11 memorial site, is not to commemorate people at all.  It's to look like you are.

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