Deleting my Facebook account has made me appreciate social media a bit more. My Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit feeds are all tailored toward my interests and tend to favor more memes, cats, and hip-hop than the political fervor on fb. It’s been really healthy for me to get my news from an actual news agency instead of regurgitated crap on my fb feed.
Sidebar- I was telling a coworker about how I’ve been leaving my phone in the living room overnight and was using an alarm that imitate sunlight to wake me up. Today, I received an ad for the Philips lamp that I own. I bought this lamp a couple years ago and have not searched for it since. I’m still pretty creeped out that I’m getting ads based on verbal conversation. The same thing happened to me while I was telling a friend about Beach House. The results weren’t vacation rentals, it was a freakin’ fan account following me on Instagram. I can’t wait for legislation to pass to give us an iota of privacy.
Today is my first day of significance off fb. I remember seeing lots of posts about 9/11 in previous years. It’s wild that it happened 18 years ago. All millennials and older generations can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they received news of the Twin Towers going down.
I was in junior high. My mom woke me up earlier than usual and told me to come look at the tv. I was groggy and thought I was seeing a movie trailer. I made some dismissive comment, like I did when she woke me up to tell me Aaliyah died. She then pointed out that this was real and was happening in real time. Fuck.
School was really tense. We were glued to the TV in most classes. 2001 was a peak time for little punk shit Melissa who listened to lots of Anti-Flag and Bad Religion. I thought war was eminent. It was, but not in the capacity I expected. I thought we were going to live under martial law and my reality was going to match that of a WWII occupation.
That night, my mom pointed out how eerie it was that there were no planes in the sky. I talked to classmates. We were all scared. I remember anticipating which cities were going to get hit next.
In retrospect, my “conversations” with peers were more of me preaching anti-war anarchist shit at them. I definitely appreciate them listening. It added fuel to the fire for me to become even more of a nasty woman who questions the status quo.
My favorite shirt was a bright red Anti-Flag tee with bombs being dropped on the front. On the back, it said “Why is it not called terrorism when it’s carried out by the United States?” and had a long list of death tolls from unjust American wars. Afghanistan had a figure + the notation “and counting.”
I wore this shirt to school all the time. I never got in trouble for it. I never got called out for it. It was a great conversation starter. I recall other students being like “oh shit, you’re right.” I’m bummed that I couldn’t find a picture of this shirt. I wore it out until it was rags. I guess that’s an occupational hazard of wearing spiked belts back in the day.
I suppose that’s an unpopular opinion on 9/11. Conspiracy theories can be interesting, but the whole “jet fuel doesn’t melt steel beams” thing feels a little disrespectful due to the loss of life. While my opinion may be unpopular, I appreciate challenging the war that followed in a critical way.
Fairly recently, I learned the difference between horror and terror. It’s a trope where horror stirs up fear related to an event that already happened. Terror is the anticipation that something bad is going to happen. The Haunting of Hill House makes fantastic use of terror.
When I think of the trope of terror in the War on Terrorism, it makes a lot of sense 18 years later. Politicians were mongering fear of the unknown and fear of the future. That fear was used for profit, power, and personal gained at the expense of human lives.
9/11 changed everything for the worse. On the up side, it inspired some really great music.
I’m rocking 2002’s Mobilize now and have fond memories of listening to it while skateboarding and starting friendships that would last a lifetime.
I don’t listen to punk nearly as much any more. A lot of it hasn’t aged well due to casual misogyny, but Anti-Flag still makes me feel good and fired up.
Last night, I went to a screening of Margaret Atwood Live. She said that she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale while living in West Berlin and was inspired by the political climate of the time. The moderator asked what current events inspired her to write a follow up to the world of Gilead. She said that things started getting better after the Berlin Wall came down, because the 90s were pretty prosperous, but then 9/11 happened. Then the financial crisis happened. Things briefly got better with the blip of hope that was Obama, but then things got far worse with Trump, Boris Johnson, climate change, Brexit, etc.
In short, The Testaments happened because the political climate is as shitty as ever and history has a way of repeating itself.
Atwood said that heroes arise from terrible conditions. “You can’t have a dragon slayer without a dragon.” I thought of this in many ways. First responders are considered heroes. The Stranger Things crew are heroes fighting against the Demogorgon. Both groups fight against huge threats and must rise to the occasion.
The screening started with the marvelous Ann Dowd (Aunt Lydia) reading a passage from The Testaments. Her final words about the bleak world of Gilead-
“Wait, I counsel them silently: it will get worse.”
It will get worse.
Dowd’s delivery was chilling.
I often quote Dan Savage’s “It gets better” while talking about living with mental illness. I really want to say “it gets better” when it comes to the world at large, but I fear that Aunt Lydia may be right.