The other day I wrote about a woman named Shellie Ross whose 2-year-old son had drowned in their swimming pool.
On Monday evening Ms. Ross had sent out a tweet asking for prayers because her son had fallen in the pool. At the time of that tweet, no one knew if he was dead or alive.
Later that evening her online and real world friends began sending out tweets asking for prayers for Ms. Ross and her family because the little boy had died. At no time did Ms. Ross actually tweet the words "my son is dead".
But in a sick case of Monday morning quarterbacking, many judgmental, cruel and self-righteous people (who are also apparently perfect parents who never let their children out of their sight for one second) came out of the woodwork and started attacking Ms. Ross via Twitter and their own personal blogs.
At first they accused her of lying about her son because these people (monsters) couldn't find a police report detailing the accident or they couldn't get local hospitals to confirm the death (um, hello? Every heard of HIPPA?). Then, after there was a very brief article about the drowning posted online these same people began attacking Ms. Ross for tweeting before and after the accident.
One woman in particular - who I refuse to name here or anywhere else because she does not deserve ANY more publicity after what she's said and done - has been blogging and tweeting about how it's Ms. Ross's fault that her son is dead because of her addiction to Twitter. This woman who shall remain nameless even went so far as to read through all of Ms. Ross's tweets and post links to cached pages of deleted tweets - to prove what I'm not sure. I guess maybe it was to prove that she has a lot of free time to ignore her own kids and spend hours reading thousands of tweets.
This online sideshow to this unimaginable tragedy is beyond comprehension to me.
According to reports, Ms. Ross was outside in her yard with her children, cleaning out their chicken coop and she asked her 11-year-old to turn off a hose in their screened in pool - and the door didn't lock and the 2-year-old was able to get inside the screened in pool area without anyone seeing him.
This is from a story posted by FloridaToday.com:
...At 5:22 p.m. Monday, she tweeted about the rare fog that rolled over Brevard County as she worked in her chicken coop.
According to 9-1-1 records, a phone call from Ross came in at 5:38 p.m. that she had found her son at the bottom of their screened-in swimming pool.
She posted a tweet at 6:12 p.m.: “Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool.”
That was followed five hours later with “remembering my million dollar baby” and photos of a smiling Bryson. Those posts and pictures have since been removed from her Twitter account. There is nothing in Ross’ posts that indicate she was on the computer or cell phone at the time of the tragedy.
It is unclear what Ross was doing between 5:22 p.m., when she tweeted, and 5:38 p.m., when she called for help.
In a tweet posted Tuesday morning, Ross wrote, “I was outside with him and it took two seconds for him to slip away.”
Now, as a parent, I know how quickly kids can get away.
Bad things can happen in an instant.
Bad things can happen when you're standing with your child.
To accuse this mother of neglecting her child in this instance is unthinkable. And yet, that is what so many people are doing right now. Complete strangers are posting horrible, hateful things online - in blogs, on Twitter and even on ABC.com after ABC posted an online story about the drowning and what followed online.
[A note: Dan Harris with ABC News just announced via Twitter (of course) that he was assigned the story about Shellie Ross for tonight's World News broadcast].
I cannot imagine the pain, horror, guilt and grief this mother is going through right now.
And, I cannot imagine wanting to inflict more pain on someone through social media and blogging. Is that what this world has come to? Accusing grieving mothers of horrible things because she asked her online community to pray for her critically injured son? Is it suddenly acceptable to accuse someone of neglect because a few minutes before the unthinkable happened this person sent out a tweet about some random thing they were doing outside?
All I can feel for this mother is sadness - she has lost her little boy to a tragic accident.
She reached out to her friends, her source of support in a time of need - her ONLINE community - and is now being attacked for that.
I don't understand how this is OK.
What happened was an accident. It's tragic. And sad. And horrible. And it was an accident.
Shellie Ross is going to spend the rest of her life wondering "why" and "what if?" and grieving for her son. It is not our place to judge her or her family. Right now, whether she is a stranger to you or a friend, she needs positive thoughts, prayers and condolences.
For another view of this story, check out this New York Time's article.