Twitter Post on Child Abuse Crosses Line

Filed under: Opinions

A blogger who goes by the name Thordora recently tweeted something rather alarming on Twitter, an online site where posters talk about what they're doing or thinking at any given moment in 140 characters or less. Thordora is mom to a 3-year-old daughter, and tweeted that she wanted to smother her daughter because the kid wouldn't go to sleep.

While many parents can probably sympathize with what Thordora was feeling in terms of frustration and tiredness, some of her Twitter followers were shocked by what she had written; she was threatening to kill her child and she used the f-word in her tweet. One concerned follower went so far as to call the police, who paid Thordora and her sleeping child a visit.

Was is right for Thordora to Twitter her frustration? Was it right for someone else -- essentially a stranger who doesn't know Thordora personally -- to call the cops? Does the answer lie somewhere in the gray middle?

In this case, I would say there is no gray area. There can't be as far as a child's safety is concerned. Believe me, as the parent of a very, very, VERY energetic child I can imagine what the scene was trying to get Thordora's child down. Regardless of how you feel, though, a line is crossed when someone's safety is questioned.

Sorry, but Thordora should have known better, and she got what was coming to her. There is such a thing as social responsibility over the Internet. People use the web to create a community. As with a real community, those in a virtual simulation care for and are concerned about all the members, even if they've never met. They're also just as vigilant about protecting that community. Rightly so. Do you agree?

Would you call the police in response to a Twitter or blog post?
No - I have no idea what that person is really thinking or planning.173 (20.4%)
Maybe - it would depend on what was said.472 (55.8%)
Absolutely - anyone who makes threats in a Twitter is unbalanced and needs help.201 (23.8%)

So why did Thordora write what she did? Maybe she wanted the attention. Her tweet was not unlike many of the comments we at ParentDish receive from what are known as Internet trolls. These trolls make ridiculous and controversial comments just to get a rise out of others, and to get attention. Well, if it was attention Thordora wanted, she got it. Others have speculated that people like Thordora use tweets and the web in general as a way to connect with others and also as a cry for help. Fine, maybe she was stressed out or having a bad day or has a horror for a child. Write about that. Don't write that you're going to kill your kid if you don't want people to freak out.

Some argue it was over-reactive of whomever called the police. Maybe it was, but it is somewhat understood that Thordora is bipolar, not that that condition should have any impact on whether or not her words were taken seriously. In my mind it simply thickened the stew. Perhaps Thordora was being sarcastic or kidding, but, perhaps not. In recent months we've seen a young man, Abraham Biggs, commit suicide on the Internet. No one took him seriously, and now he's dead.

We've seen another woman pose as a taunting teenage boy on MySpace to get back at Megan Meier, her daughter's peer, which caused Megan to kill herself; she took the faux beau's comment that the world would be better off without her seriously. So why should we not take this woman seriously? Face it, in the world we live in it is a very real possibility that Thordora meant to do her daughter harm. And why take the chance? Every person who followed Thordora's tweets who read that and did nothing would be essentially to blame for anything that happened to her daughter.

In a later post Thordora complained that she couldn't speak her mind because she wasn't a perfect parent. Well, guess what, sister -- none of us are perfect parents. We don't, however, tweet like a twit about wanting to commit infanticide. I for one commend the person who called the cops. Princess better choose her 140 characters more carefully next time.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.