Friday, December 18, 2009

Social Media Kills Your Children

In case you didn't pick up on the sarcasm, that title was made in jest

One day I said to my mom I was amazed at how much she got done with three kids. Her wry response: "Well we didn't have the internet." Touche mom, touche. I kept thinking about this after the controversy this week on Twitter about the sad death of Shellie Ross's (@military_mom) son.

If you didn't read about the story anywhere (I only found out about it by noticing a post a Twitter friend had made in reference to it), the short version is that an active blogger/twitter mom's son drown in the family's swimming pool.

Since then she has been the focus of scrutiny by the press and other bloggers because of her Twitter time line. She twittered throughout the day and up until the moment 911 was called then after he was taken to the hospital, asking for prayers. They question her time spent on developing her online personality insinuating that if she had spent more time watching her child the tragedy would not have happened.

My own reaction is somewhere between the defense of her friends and the castigation by other bloggers. As a mom of small kids, my own approach to parenting is more hands off than most. I do not always have them within my line of sight and often ignore them longer than I should just to get one more post read. The lesson in this tragedy for me it is to step back from the screen. To be more present. Because life takes unexpected turns and there are no guarantees.

And this to me is the downside of the "mommy blogging world". It is ironic to be that to be successful as a mommy blogger you have to spend much of your time not actually mothering your kids. A prominent woman in web work once told me she had a problem with BlogHer because it was asking women to trade the lives of their children for swag.

While it was a over simplification (that came from a working mom with s stay at home spouse) it did go to the root of the dark side of this new uncharted world of social media. To get the trips and the products you have to give of yourself and your time. You put yourself out there in a big way and Shellie Ross experienced the downside of that at the worst possible time.

Some might question why I would chose to write about this. Simply put, when I was ten while I watched TV and the housekeeper ironed, my younger sister drowned in our swimming pool. As a parent, I have always known that the worst can happen. Though my mother was not home at the time I know that there are family and friends who blamed her for her permissive attitude towards her children, letting a three year old play outside by herself. I know she must have felt the pain that Shellie feels, just not the judgment of strangers.

Please, please go read this excellent post on pool safety. People think it's slightly crazy but my children don't wear water wings or any kind of floatie (give a false sense of security to parents) and are never out of arms length of an adult while in or near water.

Some links on the story:


  1. I don't necessarily have a problem with the timeline of events - the woman lost her child and I'm not about to say "well, if she wasn't on Twitter so damn much this might not have happened" because we all know what a lie that is. You can't watch your children every minute of the day and expect them to come out as well adjusted adolescents and later adults. That said, I really wish this woman would have had a gate around the pool and a cover on it as it seems that was the responsible thing to do, not necessarily limiting her internet access.

    I'll say this about BlogHer though, I really do despise the "gimme" attitude so many of the women who attend the event have - it's not just the mommybloggers either. Just because you have a blog does not make you special, nor does it mean people should give you free stuff.

  2. From what I have read she did have a gated area that the pool was in, if not a gate around the pool itself. Evidently her older son did not secure it (poor kid). It really does only take a second.

    I find the world of blogging both tantalizing and scary. I want to go to BlogHer but am scared by the seeming need to be sponsored and grab swag.

  3. Oh gosh, what a terrible tragedy for your family...

    I do think it's strange to have such a strong connection to Twitter (and I love Twitter) Posting a tweet after a horrific accident would be the last thing on my mind though.