The Terrible Story Of Shellie Ross (And Everyone Else)

Shellie Ross

Conor Friedersdorf has a thoughtful post up at The Daily Dish about the angry reaction to that awful story of Shellie Ross, the Florida blogger who tweeted the drowning death of her two-year-old son just 34 minutes after it happened.

Friedersdorf writes:

Isn’t this just the latest example of people becoming insanely judgmental about a fellow citizen merely because she conceives of technology differently? It is unimaginable to me that people would react this way if Ms. Ross shouted over the back fence in the middle of the crisis to ask all in earshot to pray, and five hours later, still in shock, mechanically composed a letter to friends lamenting her loss… ‘This woman is a perfect example of where humanity is heading as it becomes more enslaved by technology,’ one commenter said. In fact, the callousness strangers direct via Internet at a grieving mother is a far more dire harbinger of where we’re headed.

That sounds right. And not only about how people conceive of technology, but about how people conceive of death. If there’s one truism about experiencing death, it’s that every person deals with it differently. Some people might collapse in tears. Others might reach for a drink. Maybe some people would cook, or tidy up. Some people might burst out laughing. That’s the thing about shock, about right? You never know. To attack someone for their reaction to such a tragedy, well, that’s not very nice, to say the least. And, as Ross herself put it, “small minded.”

Another blogger, Madison McGraw, tweeted, “Perhaps if Mrs. Ross had spent less time tweeting and more time playing with her son, this would not have happened,” and warned against sending donations without verification in response to Ross’ message. Explaining herself to ABC News, McGraw, a former paramedic and mother of three, said “I thought, ‘Who would tweet that her son just drowned?’ I couldn’t believe it… I’ve seen people react [to death], but they’re screaming their heads off, crying and they don’t know what to do. They’re not on Twitter. I’ve never seen that before and I was just shocked.”

She was shocked. And she immediately tweeted about it. Huh.