|AU's 9/11 Memorial|
I was a senior on September 11th, 2001, on my way to class when I walked through the commuter lobby and saw a burning tower on the TV's. It had been a hard morning for me already: on the drive in from my rural neighborhood, a bird smashed into my windshield. Blood was everywhere.
I hadn't slept the night before, anxiety, restlessness, and back pain kept me up. None of that is too memorable, but the emotions that followed made a permanent imprint.
Few showed up for our early class, and we were there for several confused minutes before school was canceled and campus closed.
Classes streamed out into the street, and we whipped out our early model cell phones (pre-text messaging) to call loved ones in the New York area, or anywhere at all.
Before all the circuits jammed, I was able to speak with a friend working in the Diamond District. Though he was far enough away, he's Arab-American, so I worried more. (We had watched The Siege together in South Jersey just a few years earlier.)
For the next three days, I sat in my pajamas, inconsolable, and watched CNN. I lost my job waiting tables at a country club. Finally, my roommate turned the TV off and peeled me off the couch.
That led to my news blackout for the next several years. Despite being a student of media, I was not immune to the profit-driven media overtaking my emotions in lieu of providing actual information. Bad media is more than just mindlessness: it creates fear, misinformation, and wars.
Eventually, I found my way into news so that I could be a part of the solution. As I sit here now just outside of Washington, D.C., I continue to work towards that goal.