In Defense of the Mom Who Tweeted While Her Toddler Drowned
GRAINY MEDIEVAL HOME MOVIE: King Lear, younger and handsome (think late Connery) in Santa Suit, three little girls on his knees. Toddler Cordelia looks on wide-eyed as Goneril yanks Regan’s hair; Regan slaps her, then pulls hat over her father’s eyes. While Lear adjusts hat, older girls knock Cordelia to the floor, then pretend to console her as their father regains his sight.
Ah, those were the days.
That’s my asinine attempt at an introduction to the topic of the “mommy blogger” who tweeted while her toddler drowned in the family pool. She also tweeted from the hospital, and the day following his death, prompting fellow mommy blogger Madison McGraw to suggest, somewhat bluntly, “Perhaps if Mrs. Ross had spent less time Tweeting and more time playing with her son, this would not have happened.” Her point?
“We need to remember that social media can truly be a tool and you can meet some wonderful people, but we need to pay attention to those that are physically near us. Our real neighbors. Our children waiting for us to color with them. Our husband that wants to watch The Office with him. Our mother that hasn’t heard from us in weeks. Imagine how strong our physical communities and our families would be if we paid as much attention and took the time with them as we do with Twitter and Facebook and Blogging.”
Tidings of comfort and joy, indeed, although telling people to stay off the internet via the internet seems a little skewed, if you ask me, in a supersize-Big Mac-with-a-diet-coke sort of way.
For me, it boils down to this: not a night goes by when, putting my daughters to bed, I don’t for at least a second, ponder what it might be like to lose them. Then my brain stops, because it has to. I am not capable of imagining that world. And the idea that my actions could ever somehow be to blame for their absence exists somewhere light years beyond envisioning that absence in the first place. DOES NOT COMPUTE.
In the cosmic Blame Game, I think it’s fairly safe to point the finger – all ten of them, even – at this mom who took other people’s whole worlds with her when she went on that pre-drive bender. But Shelli Ross? Who are we to demand that she confess she should have done things differently? Isn’t that a given? And if she is addicted to Twitter, or Twinkies, or cigarettes, is now really a good time to quit? As Technorati’s Dawn Olsen and my old buddy Eric Matas point out, kind of: Let ye who is without updates among you cast the first tweet.
OK, I don’t know what that means. Point is – and here’s where King Lear comes in – tragedies are only tragedies in retrospect. If nothing bad ever actually happens, they may be just plain old days. Some tragedies, like Lear’s, involve epically bad decisions; others, just bad moments, aporias of attention in which fate came calling as we tweeted, fucked, or simply faced the wrong way.
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