Why Does a Mom Tweet Her Son's Death In Near-Real Time?

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A long time ago, my ex-wife had two miscarriages. We could barely speak after that. Maybe that's why I can't understand how someone can tweet the death of her two-year-old son almost in real time. That's what Shellie Ross did.

According to the New York Times, Shellie has 5,400 followers on Twitter. The wife of an Air Force sergeant, she uses her account to tell about her life as a mother of four.


Last monday she tweeted about her chickens and her chicken's cage at 5:22pm. At 5:38pm she called the police saying that her son Bryson was dead at the bottom of the family pool. At 6:12pm she asked her Twitter followers to pray for the life of her son. Only five hours later, she posted photos of the two-year-old Bryson along with the following message:

Remembering my million dollar baby

I don't know about you, but when I read this, something flipped inside me: I felt absolutely no sympathy for this woman. I just can't believe that this is the way you mourn the loss of your own son. The same way I just can't believe that anyone could have the cold blood to tweet about how your son is dead in the pool, just a few minutes after finding him there.


The NYT article is excusing her by saying that "it feels perfectly logical that Shellie Ross would reach out to that community with her pain." Really? How is that "logical" again? Do you mean as logical as plastering the front of your home with photos of your dead kid, and publicly declare that you are "remembering" him shouting through the window? With a bloody megaphone? And what is that community of 5,400 followers? Are they 5,400 friends? Or just 5,400 spectators? And since we are at this logical game, could we step it a little bit further and turn on the Justin.tv webcam? I want to see the tears, please. What's the difference, anyway? It's all about "reaching the community" because everyone feels isolated, after all.

But as I was thinking about this, I remembered that I tweet about personal things too.


Heck, you can tell when I'm angry, or happy, or in love just by reading my posts. So where to draw the line? Maybe each of us have to draw our own lines. I know, however, where to draw mine. Tweeting about the death of my kid—something that hopefully will never happen—or anyone else is a hundred billion miles out of that line.

At the end, the fact is that, no matter how you look at this, it's terribly sad. Sad because a kid died. Sad because something is really fucked up when a mother's first reaction is to post about the death of her son, just a few minutes after she finds him in the pool. In a bloody web page. Wrong with the mom, wrong with the whole society, wrong with whobloodydamngodfuckingever. But something here is just not working right, and no excuses on how this is a brave new world of technology can make up for this more-than-often-pathetic show we call the web.


But that's really the key here: Technology has enabled us to easily transmit our lives in real time, and many people don't have a clear idea of where their privacy or their "real" world starts or ends anymore. With our smartphones and digital cameras, with the Twitters and Facebooks of this world, we have became curators of our own digital live archives. So that's probably the answer to the first question: Why does a mom tweet her son's death In near-real time? Because now she can. [NYT]