I’ve only experienced this sort of issue once in my entire internet life and it changed my mind about whether or not you take comments either posted on Twitter, a blog, or a message board seriously.
The situation I dealt with involved a message board and a post from a mother on the board saying she was going to kill herself. It was totally out of character for her to post something like that. So when it popped up everyone reacted by trying to help the mother. We put on our investigation caps and found out her information and called the cops. Luckily we did it in enough time to stop her from what she was going to do, but imagine if we had just blown it off thinking that it wasn’t our place to do that or had taken the time to look up and make sure she was serious.
But even then should it be a judgement call? Perhaps it’s on the author of the posts to be responsible for the consequences of what was posted rather than saying that the reader has to do a background check on everything that is posted. Imagine if in the above situation we as a group had decided to research and see if she had ever posted something like that in a joking manner and it took us a few hours to do it? Perhaps she wouldn’t have been stopped then?
That becomes the question. Do we research and risk taking too much time and potentially allowing a bad thing to happen or do we err on the side of caution and research so we don’t make anyone mad?
I’m of the belief that you do what you deem appropriate to the situation. If you want to call the cops, do so. If you want to email the author of the posts, do so and don’t regret that decision. Having the cops show up at your door at 11pm is a minor inconvenience at best, but that’s all it is. And although it’s annoying, wouldn’t you rather have people who are concerned about not only you but your children out there? Isn’t that the point of the community in the first place?
As a blogger myself I’ve come to the acceptance that what I post may be misread, misinterpreted, disagreed with, and commented on. One of the realizations as well that I’ve come to is I can’t post anything that may be seen as me threatening someone or my family. I came to this realization after the Shaken Baby Incident that ran through MySpace a year or so ago (Baby Kaleb). His mother had posted on a message board about how he wouldn’t go to sleep and basically how she was tired of it and at her wits end. And how that one statement, which viewed by some was just a mother venting but viewed by others it was a mothers confession, put doubt in people’s mind that Kaleb was in fact shaken by his child care provider.
If something so innocent could be made out to be so much more by people, imagine posting something saying you’re going to “smother” your child?
So with the internet being the internet, and words unable to communicate emotions properly I’ve always erred on the side of caution in regards to complaining about my daughter. If the cops show up at my door sometime in the future it won’t be because of what I’ve written on Twitter or on my blog, that’s for sure.
Another aspect of the internet which I’ve come to accept is having my work (posts) taken and used against me. It’s part of public posting. Someone comes to the blog, reads a post, then passes it on to a friend who does the same. That’s the point of most blogs in the first place, to gain the hits and readership. Some may come in and read before commenting, other’s may not. But people will and can link to posts and make comments without any contextual background whether we as authors like it not. And we can’t pretend we haven’t done the same thing as well.
Once again it comes down to responsibility as an author. As the person communicating to the outside world it’s my responsibility to make my posts as clear as possible. As a blogger I don’t expect people to research my situation when they go to my blog for the first time. I don’t think saying that readers have a responsibility to go through over 5 years of material (that’s how long I’ve been blogging) to figure out who we are so they know how to react to what we write is logical. It’s on us, the authors, to make sure we’re as clear as possible so that misunderstandings don’t happen with our writings.
This whole situation could have been avoided by simply not hitting the enter button. I understand the anger and frustration but I take comfort in knowing that there are people out there that do in fact care about total strangers and no matter the backlash did the right thing in regards to that situation. Society has become too “live and let live” in my opinion and we’re too afraid to do what needs to be done to protect children because we might offend people. But sometimes offense is what is needed in order to save a child. In this case the children were safe, but next time maybe not, maybe they’ll be in danger and I hope that people would react the same way they did in this case.
Today’s Guest Post is brought to you by Pamala from Because I Should Care.
Happy Sunday. 🙂