So She Tweeted It

by Conor Friedersdorf

The big story today: a mother whose two year old son drowned in their backyard pool. It is making national headlines because the woman Tweeted about the incident.

"Fog is rolling in thick scared the birds back in the coop," Ross tweeted at 5:22 p.m. on Monday.

At 5:23 p.m., her son called 911 to report that his brother, 2-year-old Bryson, was floating unconscious in the pool. Records show that the Brevard County Fire-Rescue paramedics arrived at Ross' Mirrett Island, Fla., home at 5:38 p.m.

And 34 minutes later, at 6:12 p.m., Ross tweeted again. "Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool."

Nearly five hours later, after her son had been pronounced dead, Ross tweeted again.

"Remembering my million dollar baby," she wrote. Ross included a photo of Bryson in the post, time-stamped at 11:08 p.m. A few minutes later, she posted another photo of her son.

May that little boy rest in peace, and I hope the family muddles through as best they can. Like many of you, I am surprised at how the mother behaved during this ordeal. I've never faced a tragedy as grave, so I suppose I can't know for sure, but I can't even imagine I'd Tweet it -- and I don't mean that to imply that I am judging the woman for having done so, because I'm mostly posting this to wonder at the vitriol being directed against her in the comments section of the story.

Isn't this just the latest example of people becoming insanely judgmental about a fellow citizen merely because she conceives of technology differently? It is unimaginable to me that people would react this way if Ms. Ross shouted over the back fence in the middle of the crisis to ask all in earshot to pray, and five hours later, still in shock, mechanically composed a letter to friends lamenting her loss.

But doing what amounts to the same thing on Twitter? It provokes vitriol that I find every bit as inexplicable as I do the Tweeting of a child's death. In this moment of utmost gravity, you're criticizing her approach to social media? "This woman is a perfect example of where humanity is heading as it becomes more enslaved by technology," one commenter said. In fact, the callousness strangers direct via Internet at a grieving mother is a far more dire harbinger of where we're headed.