Support is support no matter where it comes from

standard December 16, 2009 15 responses

Yesterday a 2-year-old boy fell int a pool and drowned and, if that weren’t tragic enough, today insensitive people attacked the poor child’s mother, accusing her of faking her son’s death for attention.

The basis for their attack?

She tweeted that he had drowned.

That’s right. Her crime was that, as the paramedics were trying to revive her baby, she tweeted asking people to pray for her son.

Apparently some people, even heavy twitter users, cannot fathom that, faced with a personal tragedy, someone would hop online and share it with their followers.

It infuriated me that people would make the blanket assumption that the fact that she was even online meant that she wasn’t really grieving, was in fact faking.

Now I’m sorry, you might hate Twitter and Facebook and all that they stand for. That’s your prerogative. But you can’t ignore the fact that some people have a real network of friends online. People they turn to to share their joys and their frustrations. And yes, people they turn to for support in times of great tragedy.

Shocking as it may seem, for many people Twitter and Facebook offer a real support network, far beyond what most people can imagine. Being a mom is an isolating job. You can’t always go out and meet up with people to get the grown-up interaction you crave. You’re often at the mercy of tiny little irrational dictators. This is even more true for moms who live in rural areas. So we turn to the Internet and to social networks to vent or share our triumphs, we joke with a mom we’ve met here or there, and slowly real friendships develop. Because the mom on the other side of the computer is living a parallel life she understands that you might pop in and out of the conversation. And because she’s always there, it’s easy to talk to her and update her in snippets.

That’s why, when something happens and we need emotional support, we turn to our online friends. They’re there. They’re accessible. And they are amazing when it comes to the instant support that a terrible tragedy calls for. Tweeting out that something bad has happened – a car accident, an injury, anything – and getting a slew of supportive responses makes you feel less alone. It makes it less scary to pull your shoulders back and deal with the situation. Simply knowing that others, even people who have never met you in person, are thinking of you as you struggle makes it possible to go on.

Just because it’s virtual support doesn’t make it less real. The invisible hands holding you up are just as tangible as real hands. And that’s why mothers who have lost their child in the most tragic way imaginable might come tell their followers. Not because they don’t care. But because they need their friends.

15 responses

  • Amen. Only those who walk in our shoes can understand that the words we type in a tweet or IM to our friends carry just as much meaning in our hearts as do conversation with our best friends down the street. If she called her pal down the street or a pastor for prayer during the same moment, no one would blink. We are that kind of lifeline for each other. And I’m sad for those who don’t have those kind of friendships.

  • You’re so right. Those making those attack comments don’t understand social media, to their detriment. If I hadn’t had my friends from blogs and Twitter to help me through the past 5 years of chronic pain, I don’t know where I’d be.

  • Thanks for this thoughtful post. I feel so sad for what this woman is going through…. so sad.

    I know how isolating motherhood can be….. unfortunately one needs to always be mindful that social media sites like twitter might offer support from our “online friends” but it also opens up a portal for any person who has something to say….

  • It really wicked of these people to pass such awful remarks. I’m sure that mummy must be in shocked when that accident happened and her closes comfort that she could get at the moment was through her friends made via social media.
    I too got to know many great people through twitter/facebook.

  • Two nights ago, I was on facebook and a friend of mine IM’d me for a prayer request. I learned her 23 year old daughter had breast cancer. As I chatted with her about how scared she is, and I remember the night her daughter was born, and I reeled as I took this all in, I ALSO sent messages and posted on my profile asking for prayers for Katie.

    It is a sign of the times. And I know when I need prayer, I reach for people however I can get to them. To me, it was no different when I went to my husband (in person) to tell him. Only then, did I finally cry for my friend and her husband who are so scared for their “little girl.”

  • I will be honest, virtual support is about ALL I have … so if I had a cell with FB and Twitter Apps you bet I would be online trying to connect with the only support system I have during a time of sorrow, tragedy and need!

    Good post!

  • Thank you for writing this! I’m a freelance writer, and spend much of my time at home, writing. I have only a dog to keep me company, and while I love her, she doesn’t talk much, you know. I can tell her about something bizarre I read on the internet, but she never tells me what she thinks about it. ;)

    I value my online friends, and most of us meet up in person, even flying great distances to see each other, a couple of times a year.

    It is real.

  • I think when the tragedy is so vast and unspeakable, people go to great lengths to distance themselves from it. And this kind of intense disbelief is just one way of doing it.

    No, I don’t approve, and I don’t think that it’s my approval that they’re after. It’s self-preservation. And although I’m all for self-preservation in the normal course of events, perhaps doing it at the expense of a grieving mother is not the way to go.

    The tragedy is just unspeakable. The family is in my prayers.

  • an additional point is that she is a military wife who just moved to a new home days before, as I understand it. I don’t know if the mom has any friends that live in the area, but i would assume not. When tragedy strikes your neighbors come to help immediately. I think for many, the online mom community is the virtual backyard.

  • Another thought–I think some people can’t comprehend that a person would ask for prayer–online or off.

  • just one more reason why I love your writing. You’ve captured it right on. I know if I ever really needed support my online family would be there. They all will be. Breaks my heart some ppl just don’t get it and things like this erupt and are so hurtfulto others.

  • Being a SAHM, or especially a WAHM is the loneliest job in the world. Sure, we love our kids, but try talking to nobody but a 2 year old 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week, and see if YOU don’t reach out for a little online support.

    I don’t have kids at home, but I work at home, and I would go insane without the support of my online friends. I have real friends, but they aren’t there on a moment’s notice when an article isn’t getting good page views, or to give me advice on my writing or blogging or SEO.

    Being a SAHM is a thankless job, I know, because I was one for years. That’s why I love my mommy blogger Twitter pals, and why I support them.

  • Very well said. Thank You. My family and friends are hundreds of miles away and I would have done the same thing — in a desperate moment. Thank You again for writing this…my heart is with her and her family during this very tragic time.

  • Anonymous

    I feel so bad for her, and i don’t agree with what people are doing.
    she was tweeting and not paying attenton to her child.
    plus the story in the paper said she told the cop she didn’t see him slip out the door, but she told me she was with him outside. doesn’t add up.
    bottom line losing a child is painful, i know.
    But tweeting is not the world, children come first

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