The September 11 attacks: 14 years on, what’s changed?

It’s strange to think that for a 13-year-old right now, September 11, 2001 is an abstract past event; just one of a million important things they’re told happened before they were born. Even an 18-year-old – a driving, voting, tax-paying adult – would be unlikely to remember.

To this emerging generation, 9/11 is just as fixed in history as World War II was for us; the archival footage of those plans will feel just as abstract as the moon landing. It’s no longer a recent memory; it’s history.

Last week, a friend suggested we live in a “post-9/11 world”. I wondered at the time what that meant, and I’m still wondering today. Is there really such a thing? Is the world really so different? Has anything truly changed?

At the time, it certainly felt like one world had suddenly been switched with another. Even here, from the safe vantage point of Australia, it was hard to feel completely safe. But over time, the animal panic faded.

The attacks informed the US’s decision to go to Iraq and Afghanistan. While both were declared “victories”, we’re still trying to untangle ourselves from the mess. Now, with talks of entering another endless war in Syria, I have to wonder if we really learned anything.

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Airport security has certainly changed. While it was amped up to ridiculous extremes post-2001, I’ve recently gotten the feeling flight and security personnel are finally allowing themselves to relax again. On my latest international flight, I was surprised to be handed a sharp metal knife with my dinner. Is this sliding back into the old ways too?

Perhaps your experiences have suggested otherwise; perhaps I’m simply being a pessimist; perhaps we really have learned something from this monstrous waste of life. But I can’t help but worry: is the world simply waiting for the next big disaster before it can truly change on a meaningful, long-lasting scale?

How do you feel the world has changed since September 11? Has it had any bearing on your life in the 14 years since? Do you worry about slipping back into a false sense of security?