By Julie Tyios
There is no doubt that Twitter is a powerful communication and collaboration tool. Some call it a social network, others liken it to the phone. It has one purpose: To deliver a message.
At 5:22 p.m. on December 14, self-employed mommy blogger Shellie Ross was active on Twitter. Minutes later, her 11-year-old son called 911 to report that his two-year-old brother, Bryson, was floating unconscious in the family’s backyard pool. Ross performed CPR throughout the call. 34 minutes later, Ross tweeted again: "Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool."
Five hours later, after Bryson Ross was pronounced dead at the hospital, Ross tweeted again – This time about remembering her son, with a picture attached.
Within moments of her tweets, her online friends began organizing a central place for cards and donations to be sent by her readers and followers. This public outpouring prompted criticism from some, and thrust Ross into the public eye through the media.
Shellie Ross now faces much media criticism for tweeting about her son’s death. But Ross was initially reaching out to her network to ask them to pray for her son; not giving a play-by-play, as some have framed it. Certainly, no one would question Ross’s intent if she were to pick up the phone and call friends and family to deliver the news – Twitter is just another method of contact (albeit more casual), where Ross could share her grief with the world.
Questions have been raised as to how anyone could be composed enough to tweet during such a crisis. As social media starts replacing more traditional methods of communication, however, I feel that more people will turn to these methods to deliver a message, especially in a time of need. Trisha Haas, founder of the site Momdot.com, where Ross is employed, defended Ross’s tweets, noting the Ross tweets a lot and is friends with a lot of people in the blogging community.
ABCnews.com quoted another mommy blogger, Colleen Padilla, who said: "In the defense of her tweeting during a tragedy, that is her community… I think today, the Internet is a place where moms are seeking support, advice and answers."
I don’t feel it was wrong of Ross to reach out over Twitter in a time of crisis. I know many people who wouldn’t hesitate to ask for prayers or luck when facing a challenge, and I feel Shellie Ross faced one of the most anguishing moments a mother could have. What are your thoughts on this incident? Post them here or reply to me on Twitter @JulieTyios.
Click here to read the article from ABCnews.com.
Click here to read a post about the tragedy at BBC's dot.life blog.