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.