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Old 12-17-2009, 05:36 PM   #1
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Some Question Mom's Twitter Post Of Son's Drowning

floridatoday.com

Some question Twitter's military_mom post of son Bryson drowning

BY KIMBERLY C. MOORE
FLORIDA TODAY

MERRITT ISLAND — A child’s jumbled train tracks and a toppled plastic dinosaur lie on the floor by the Ross family’s Christmas tree, left behind by 2-year-old Bryson before he drowned in the family’s swimming pool Monday evening.

But it’s what has been happening on the Internet that has people talking about the tragedy and what is acceptable in today’s world of instant communication and tell-all messaging.

Bryson’s mother, Shellie Ross, posted on Twitter.com about his accident a half-hour after she called paramedics — and then was attacked by strangers nationwide in follow-up tweets and blogs for doing so.

Social media experts said Ross did nothing wrong. Her friends call the 37-year-old a caring, devoted mom.

Ross is aware of the controversy, but she declined Wednesday to be interviewed by FLORIDA TODAY, steering requests instead to friends who are monitoring the Web discussions. Those same friends advised her to stop reading the responses to her online postings. However, she was back on Twitter on Wednesday, thanking the Air Force for their “amazing” support and castigating two Twitter critics.

A post timeline

Ross is an established personality in the online world, with her own blog (Blog 4 Mom - Part 1) and Twitter account (Shellie Ross (Military_Mom) on Twitter). More than 5,300 people follow her Twitter posts.

On Monday, as usual, she tweeted throughout the day about what was going on in her life, including decorating the family’s Christmas tree with breakable ornaments — despite having a 2-year-old in a house they had just moved into on Dec. 1. At 5:22 p.m. Monday, she tweeted about the rare fog that rolled over Brevard County as she worked in her chicken coop.

According to 9-1-1 records, a phone call from Ross came in at 5:38 p.m. that she had found her son at the bottom of their screened-in swimming pool.

She posted a tweet at 6:12 p.m.: “Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool.”

That was followed five hours later with “remembering my million dollar baby” and photos of a smiling Bryson. Those posts and pictures have since been removed from her Twitter account. There is nothing in Ross’ posts that indicate she was on the computer or cell phone at the time of the tragedy.

It is unclear what Ross was doing between 5:22 p.m., when she tweeted, and 5:38 p.m., when she called for help.

In a tweet posted Tuesday morning, Ross wrote, “I was outside with him and it took two seconds for him to slip away.”

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office called it an accidental drowning.

Grief gone viral

Once Ross posted her call for prayers, Twitter users started weighing in with words of support, as well as comments and questions about the boy’s fate and Ross’ Twittering to friends, family and strangers at such a difficult time.

But social media specialists said criticism of Ross is unfair, noting that she’s simply tech-savvy and using a familiar way to communicate. They added that it’s inappropriate to question her actions at such a horrible time in her life.

Madison McGraw, who does not know the Ross family, tweeted about the incident and also posted an item on her blog, at MADISON MCGRAW, titled “Mom Tweets While Son Drowns.”

“The person that I have compassion for is her son — who might still be alive if (Ross) interacted with her son like she interacted with people on Twitter,” McGraw wrote. “To me, that shows the repercussions for social media gone awry.”

McGraw’s Twitter account lists her hometown as being Bucks County, Pa., which is near Allentown.

Asked by FLORIDA TODAY if she thought it was appropriate to attack a woman she doesn’t know who just lost her son, McGraw responded, “If she didn’t want questions raised at such a painful time, perhaps she shouldn’t have tweeted immediately after her child died. A child is dead because (of) his mother’s infatuation with Twitter.”

Blogging ‘community’

Unlike McGraw, Shari Keating knows Ross and considers her a friend. They met via blog and social networking conferences. Keating spent Monday night at the Ross home comforting her before Ross’ husband, Steve, arrived from out of town. Steve Ross is a sergeant stationed at Patrick Air Force Base.

Keating called Ross a fantastic mother who is devoted to her children. Ross has two other sons, 18-year-old Cody and 11-year-old Kris.

“To judge her, I think, is appalling,” Keating said. “You have to realize that blogging is a community.”

Peter Post, great-grandson of etiquette expert Emily Post and director of the Vermont-based Emily Post Institute, agreed. He called McGraw’s comment “horrendous in its implications.”

“I’m not sure this is the appropriate time or place to be chastising anyone,” he said.

Post said that Ross asking her Twitter followers to pray was akin to asking a congregation to pray.

The problem with modern communication mechanisms such as Twitter, he said, is that they are so fast and easy. “We put things out there and wish we hadn’t,” Post said. “It’s not just your friends who see it: It’s the whole world, potentially.”

For now, the Ross family simply wants to be left alone to grieve.

On Wednesday morning, Ross brought in a Federal Express package from her front porch. Inside was a Christmas present for Bryson that she tucked away in a closet. Her eyes rimmed red from crying, she declined to comment.
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:05 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by MrsSpringsteen View Post
“To judge her, I think, is appalling,” Keating said. “You have to realize that blogging is a community.”


I imagine at 6:12pm there were paramedics trying frantically to revive him while all she could do was watch, feel helpless and desperate - a call for prayers doesn't seem outrageous to me.

There was similar uproar not too long ago about a tweet by a business blogger who casually mentioned that she was in an exec meeting having a miscarriage and relieved because it would spare her having to get an abortion.

Obviously many were upset about the abortion bit, but many were also critisizing that twitter is not a place to announce a miscarriage and really any talk of miscarriage doesn't belong in the office.
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:52 PM   #3
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Being fundamentally private, though not excessively so, I don't understand sharing intimate private information in a public way, particularly in such an easy access way that doesn't encourage much reflection. That being said, I'm not about to judge her. People handle grief and their private lives in different ways.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:29 PM   #4
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it's not like she was sitting around on twitter before she got help.

it's not what i'd do, but it doesn't seem like she was negligent about it or anything.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:47 PM   #5
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If something happened to my son, I would probably say something about it here. . .but this is a different environment than Twitter or Facebook--at least to me. Also, I don't think I'd have the ability to post anything in the immediate aftermath. I'd be a complete and total wreck. It might be days or possibly weeks before I think I could post about it.

I decline to judge this woman. No one really knows how they'll react or what they'll do until something like that happens.
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Old 12-18-2009, 01:50 AM   #6
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I don't see the big deal...

We used to communicate by letter, then phone, then email, now social networks...

Just today a friend of mine posted his mother was diagnosed with cancer on facebook reaching out and asking for thoughts and prayers, I see no problem with this.

Maybe twitter is this woman's outlet, we all deal with situations differently. There is no evidence that this woman was online while her son was wandering around the pool, so why so much judgement about how she's dealing with the grief?
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Old 12-18-2009, 02:53 AM   #7
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Yeah, I mean, how do we know the woman wasn't sitting in the hospital waiting for any news on how her son was, and the only thing she could think to do to clear her mind was just to reach out to a community she felt comfortable with for thoughts and prayers? You don't have to be on a computer to update twitter, I highly doubt she was.
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:29 AM   #8
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So, let's get this straight. A mother asks people to pray when something terrible happens, then a few hours later makes an update.

... I can't see anything wrong with this.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:11 AM   #9
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Oh no the internet
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:03 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
If something happened to my son, I would probably say something about it here. . .but this is a different environment than Twitter or Facebook--at least to me. Also, I don't think I'd have the ability to post anything in the immediate aftermath. I'd be a complete and total wreck. It might be days or possibly weeks before I think I could post about it.

I decline to judge this woman. No one really knows how they'll react or what they'll do until something like that happens.
I decline to judge her too. I guess it does say quite a bit about the kinds of bonds some people feel with those sorts of web sites/any sort of web sites or social communities or whatever you want to call them. Personally I don't understand it-I know one person here who I feel would genuinely care about those types of things related to me but honestly it's not something I'd care to share otherwise or would think that there was any sort of that type of bond there. And definitely not in the immediate aftermath, like you said. For me an illness or something like that is somehow different from a sudden tragic event like a child drowning. I don't understand her response but I won't judge it either.

I think whether or not a web site is a "community" is up to the individual to decide based upon his/her feelings of relation to it, feelings about it. I don't do Twitter or Facebook or any of those and I have no desire to. I think social media can go awry and that individuals can confuse what they really are and maybe get too deeply immersed in them to the point that it's detrimental.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:35 AM   #11
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I decline to judge her too. I guess it does say quite a bit about the kinds of bonds some people feel with those sorts of web sites/any sort of web sites or social communities or whatever you want to call them. Personally I don't understand it-I know one person here who I feel would genuinely care about those types of things related to me but honestly it's not something I'd care to share otherwise or would think that there was any sort of that type of bond there. And definitely not in the immediate aftermath, like you said. For me an illness or something like that is somehow different from a sudden tragic event like a child drowning. I don't understand her response but I won't judge it either.

I think whether or not a web site is a "community" is up to the individual to decide based upon his/her feelings of relation to it, feelings about it. I don't do Twitter or Facebook or any of those and I have no desire to. I think social media can go awry and that individuals can confuse what they really are and maybe get too deeply immersed in them to the point that it's detrimental.
That's true. I've always felt a certain remove from Facebook--it's never been an addictive thing for me. I generally feel that here, and the one time I felt like what was happening here was actually upsetting me in "real life", I took a break for awhile and that was enough.
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Old 02-25-2010, 06:37 PM   #12
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How about live Tweeting your abortion?

Woman Live-Tweets Her Abortion On Twitter | The Frisky
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Old 02-27-2010, 06:23 PM   #13
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^that one is a little bit strange. I'm always more than a little scared about abortion, and I don't think I ever want to feel lightly about it. She said she's doing it so that people can see that it's "not a big deal". I disagree with that. I don't want people to think abortion is an everyday procedure, like getting liposuction. No matter what, it's still a decision to end a life.
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Old 02-28-2010, 12:16 PM   #14
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It makes me uncomfortable because it just gives more fuel to the "look how some women treat it so cavalierly" anti-choice argument.
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