Guest Post: The other side of the fence

11 Jan

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. 🙂


10 Responses to “Guest Post: The other side of the fence”

  1. Frannie January 12, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    I am not my brother’s keeper – not the downtrodden, not the ill or hurting, and certainly not the insane – temporarily or forever more. Nor am I the good Samaritan – every person for him/herself and may the strong survive.

  2. bromac January 12, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Blah Blah Blah. Haven’t we had enough of this.

    Good for you for going ahead and posting this Thor. You are very fair-minded.

  3. Frannie January 12, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    Who’s Thor?

  4. thordora January 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    No idea.

  5. Pamala January 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    I guess you got your answer, no one wants to hear about it anymore even though you asked for people to make guest posts about it. LOL!

  6. bromac January 12, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    Ohhhh, thor, I didn’t know you asked for the guest posts to be about this issue. I must not have read the original post right. Sorry! I thought you wanted guest posts so that you could focus on something OTHER THAN the drama of last week. And, so, I was wondering why this person wrote about the issue. That was why I said “blah, blah, blah”.


  7. thordora January 12, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    yeah, ixnay on the attackay’s….I’ve invited everyone to guest post, even if they may not agree with me.

    There’s enough talk of me having some kind of an online posse as it is. 😛 Which would be cool if it were true…

  8. Marcy January 12, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    I appreciate both sides of this drama, and yet I find myself nodding more with the folks on the side expressed in this post. Chances are, something that sounds dangerous isn’t — but if you have any hunch that it might be, it’s worth the pain and drama to take action.

    Granted, I’m pretty sure I would have understood your tweet as dark humor venting — but then again I’ve been reading you for quite some time.

    Granted again, sure, there are those who take action out of disgust, moral indignation, power play, or such — not that I’m accusing your cop-caller of that, but just acknowledging that can be someone’s motivation.

  9. thordora January 12, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    See, I understand the motivation. i’ve reached out to people online, just to make sure they knew someone was there. And people have reached out to me, as Jen did one summer to make sure I want to the hospital.

    I suppose the difference is in how this is done. Jen did it quietly, emailed me, called around anon and got information. In my recent case, someone was very very very very vocal in drawing attention, and I can’t help but believe that was for her benefit, not mine or my children.

    I acknowledge and am glad that there are people who, for whatever reason believed it was a real problem, and genuinely wanted to help. Sadly, I also believe that most people get involved so they can feel something about themselves.

    An email to me, or someone I knew, patience, tact-these things can make a difference, especially in situations where lives can TRULY be put at risk. I could have lost everything EVERYTHING-because of misinterpretation.

    Do we have a responsibility to others on line? Perhaps. But we have a responsibility to other in that we don’t destroy as much as we help.

  10. CLK January 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm #

    I really can see both sides to this debate. That is, with a hypothetical caller. It sounds as if it is clear that the real caller in this case may not have actually cared or thought that any harm would come to the child. So that changes things!

    OTOH, just theoretically, if someone were afraid of what might happen, they might think that an email would do no good: “Oh, I was going to smother my child, but your email showed me the light!” ??

    Remember, too, that authorities are called all the time – for crying babies and kids who like to ride in hatchbacks (a friend of mine’s case: “Making his children ride in the trunk!”) It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it is so common!

    I personally probably think it is too big of a thing to make someone go through… but maybe not, you know? Better safe than sorry does keep coming to mind!

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