Chances are if and when you tune in or log on to any news outlet at any given hour you are sure to hear reports of all sorts of terribleness occurring in the world – much of it spun, hyped and twisted to the fear evoking, heart wrenching, dramatic max to grab our attention. It is for this reason that I don’t tend to watch much “news” other than to hear what my favorite weather person has to say about the day or week ahead.
Several months ago I was a veritable Twitter Virgin. Twitter feels to me like a fascinating, sometimes maddening wild west of news gone viral and general information overload. The networking and marketing opportunities are endless. To think that you can choose to share information which could ultimately reach multiple thousands or even millions of people on a global level with a few keystrokes and a click is pretty crazy!
One seemingly ordinary December afternoon in the land of Tweets and Nods I was shocked to see, if I were to believe my own eyes, a mom in Florida tweeting one minute about random things happening around her yard, and the next about needing prayers for her very young son who had fallen into the family pool — and then a short time later, a tweet that he was gone and a ‘twitpic’ posted in memoriam. Seeing the words in 140 character form at the time sent chills up my spine and my mind racing. Could this possibly be true? Would a person tweet about such a thing?? Really??? As it turned out, yes, and tragically so.
In the swirl of information circulating about this terrible tragedy, a web location was almost immediately designated for donations for the family and the outpouring of support from the “Mommy Blogger” community was evident throughout this woman’s circle of over 5,000 Twitter “friends”.
And then someone asked a question. Stop the fucking presses! Someone dared to suggest that folks wait for verification of this incredible story before sending money? The horror. Frankly, I thought this made perfect sense given the well known fact that there have been many bogus Amber Alerts which have made the rounds via e-mail in recent years. These hoaxes cost employers, the general public and sometimes law enforcement agencies who knows how much in wasted time, money and resources, not to mention emotional energy.
The ugliness that ensued after the first question was incredible to witness. What I saw was a hateful, disgraceful, embarrassing and ignorant display by what I will refer to as a Mob of Mommies. Women against women, mother against mother. And because of the position I was in at the time, I felt paralyzed from commenting for fear of jeopardizing a group I was associated with. This pissed me off even more. I tried to be thoughtful and diplomatic with a few tweets of my own… Concerned friends told me “walk away Jen, walk away…”
The details, timelines, who said what when, opinions and judgements about responsible parenting and all that go with it are not relevant here (i.e., in this space). A child was lost. This woman in Florida is a stranger to me. I can’t begin to imagine how one deals with such an unbearable loss. No mother with any shred of human decency would wish such a thing upon another.
What I find very disturbing (and thus the reason for this posting) is that there are some bona fide geniuses out there who truly and wholeheartedly believe that you can blast out that kind of information to your thousands of followers (multiplied by their thousands of followers, etc.) and realistically expect that no one be allowed to question. Really?
This story made national headlines, but I didn’t hear much if any talk (although I did chat with Dom “The Big Talker” Giordano 1210AM WHPT radio) about the plain and simple fact that we don’t get to control or dictate what goes on in the court of public opinion. Period.
What I acknowledge as I share my feelings about this here is that you will likely have an opinion about it. And that’s okay.