During our class discussion about online versus offline mourning, my table came across a post on the 9/11 memorial website in which someone claimed that their three year old son was very much impacted by the fall of the World Trade towers, since just a day before he had built two towers out of food cans. This strange posting on the website led to discussion at our table about the lengths people seem to go to in order to connect themselves to a tragic event during times of mourning, and how online mourning can facilitate this desire.
Several months ago, one of my high school classmates was killed by another of my high school classmates. The event certainly shocked many people of the community, including not only those who were close friends with the victim, but also acquaintances who may have only met him a few times. His Facebook page became a type of memorial, where people posted about the great guy he was and memories they shared with him. It was strange to see people who barely knew the victim making long, mournful posts on his Wall. I even remember pondering whether I too should post something. Though I had not spoken to him for several years, I felt that I wanted to be a part of mourning. Ultimately, Facebook provided a platform for me to publicly be apart of this shocking community event even though I barely had any kind of connection to it.
This summer, I saw a documentary on Netflix called The Woman Who Wasn’t There about a woman who desperately wanted to be a part of not only the 9/11 mourning, but also the event itself. Though most of the story took place in an offline environment, I feel that this documentary captures the feelings I have attempted to express in this post. I found it a fascinating tale, and would highly recommend it. Below, I have embedded the movie trailer.