Tweet Tweet I Want To Kill Your Children LOL

There’s almost a wilful blindness when it comes to the Internet and the technology surrounding it.

Of course most people don’t even understand that their name, address and phone number are stored and available for free online in an easily searchable format. If you’re in the phonebook, your numbers are on the web.
“Killing Time With Tech And The Things You Really Need To Know About Your Online Privacy”, Me; May 28, 2008.

I just had to prove that my fucking daughter was all right because some “person” who has never met me, barely exchanged any words with me, couldn’t stop for a minute and think, gee, perhaps she’s like many other mothers, annoyed at bedtime. She couldn’t stop and think, hmmm, an email might suffice.
“Watch what you twitter, big sister is watching.”; Thordora

“if I smother my 3 year old, who will NOT GO TO FUCKING SLEEP, is it REALLY a crime?”
The “tweet” in question. Notice the punctuation and question with an obvious answer, and the word “if”. At no time in this statement does Thordora threaten her children. It’s a type of humour called “absurdism” which makes an exaggerated claim to make a point about something else… Thordora is saying she is tired.

Absurdism: An act or instance of the ridiculous. “True absurdism is not less but more real than reality” (John Simon). A philosophy based on the belief that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order brings the individual into conflict with the universe. Distinctively Absurdist language will range from meaningless clichés to Vaudeville-style word play to meaningless nonsense.
Taken from merriam-webster.com, Answers.com and Wikipedia.

Tara Gerner-Ziegmont

Because of a misunderstanding on a social networking site a friend of mine had to explain to police she hadn’t harmed or killed her kids.

My friend, Thordora, posted a comment to her Twitter account. She was tired, fed up with her kids bedtime rituals and joked about “smothering” them.

After a series of convoluted events a woman named Tara, who lives in Pennsylvania, used “tweets” on her Twitter account to contact a complete stranger in Los Angeles, who somehow managed to convince the police near Thordora’s home there was imminent danger to Thor’s kids.

This is what happens when two strangers who are naive about the technology they’re using collide. Thor, for a minute, believed everyone reading her “tweet” would understand her. Tara thought it was her responsibility to get her Twitter “community” hard at work finding Thor — ultimately slandering Thor’s name up and down the Twitter world.

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Thor should also have known better than to leave her address and real name attached to her site. I don’t know Tara, but at any point during the evening common sense should have told her to slow the fuck down.

But this incident illustrates perfectly there’s a serious disconnect going on as people get involved with communication tools they know nothing about beyond the basic four step tutorial on how to get their Twitter/MySpace/FaceBook/Second Life account started.

Basically Twitter recreates in a blog format all the fun of instant messaging without all the hassle of having friends to send them to, plus there’s none of that unnecessary making sense bullshit.

Thordora did exactly what you’re supposed to do, exactly what the site is designed for, she collected what was on her mind into fewer than one hundred words and posted it as a “tweet”.

But her naiveté was not understanding what the consequences of yelling “fire” as the punchline to a joke in a crowded chatroom could be.

Someone writes a tweet about baseball… someone else recognizes the player, the team and makes their own comment to prove they’re just as cool as the writer. Someone writes something political, I respond in kind. It’s easy and essentially meaningless. But someone drops something about poking their kid with a sharp stick… ah, now how do I respond?

Tara responded by eventually thinking about the children. And, eventually, she managed to get two Canadian police officers to knock on my friends door.

The thing is, while Tara is claiming she did the right thing “for the children”, what will she do when she discovers the comments left on YouTube by pervs detailing what they’d like to do to whatever woman/girl is in the video? Is she going to send out tweet alerts warning about potential sexual assaults?

People like Tara are accessing these new communication tools and bringing with them all the morals and “community” responsibilities they idealize about their own neighbourhoods. So calling the police in another country to respond to a crime which only occurred in her head makes complete sense.

From her response on Thor’s site:

I hope you… realize that a lot of people you don’t know were very concerned for your welfare and the welfare of your children, and be glad that people out there care about you.

There is something very ominous in her little mission statement. Like how people scattered all over the world now have a direct say in how we raise our children.

Somehow I can’t imagine Tara hearing a baby crying in a neighbours house and whipping that cellphone out to notify 9-1-1. Of course she wouldn’t do that. But she would Twitter about it…

Which was her guiding principle on the night she started the process which ended with my friend having to wake her kids up to prove to a couple of cops they were safe. It happened because Tara needed something to fill the empty space between thoughts. She needed something to make her “Twitter community” keep its gaze on her… she needed a tweet.

Someone who followed the incident on Twitter describes it like this in the following three quotes:

No [Tara], you did not ‘respond directly’ to Thordora until you made it all about YOU in posting this non-sense, “Dear person who just swore in capital letters about smothering your toddler, I’m sorry, but I had to unfollow you. That is not right.”

From what I understand of Twitter “unfollow” means Tara is basically shunning Thor.

After that, and after re-tweeting it, directing other people to the cause of your hand-wringing and “your angst” you sent the oh-so-clinical, “@thordora It would be a crime. If you’re having thoughts of hurting your child or yourself, plz get help ASAP. Go to the hospital NOW.”

So instead of calling the authorities, or contacting Twitter, Tara decided to continue sitting at her computer and writing to a person who might be asleep or a thousand miles from a computer… basically a person who only existed in her head.

And, when Tara finally started making phone calls it wasn’t to the police. It was to a child services agency*. But she made everyone on her Twitter list understand what was going on, because it was good theatre… it was keeping her Twitter-maniacs in the loop. So they, too, could be in on keeping children safe.

Also, you didn’t call the police or ask anyone else to call? Liar. Or are you again playing semantics because it wasn’t the police you were trying to contact but some other agency? “I need a person in Canada to make a toll free call for me. I can’t call from the US, the number goes to the wrong place. DM me if u can help “

What a great new community Tara wants us to be a part of… instead of just passively collecting evidence in the form of screenshots, downloads and asking some questions, Tara and her friends want to be part of the bust. Not because they’re interested in keeping Thor’s kids safe, or in making their streets safer — otherwise look out anyone who jokes about wringing their kids neck at a party hosted by Tara. These people got their keyboards sweaty because they need the tweet. They needed to have a reason for updating their FaceBook status, or to change the emoticon in their sidebar.

There is good along with the bad in any new communications tool. But the ones suddenly available to us over the past few years are more about communicating with ourselves than with others. There is a certain amount of narcissism involved in any “social network”, but within the category Twitter is remarkably narcissistic.

Find people you don’t know, and communicate with them by following their “tweets”… which are vague references to small instances during the day. There is no reflection, no discussions, just you responding to 50 words which probably occurred to me three minutes ago.

Twitter, it seems to me, is all about projection. There aren’t two people in the discussion, there’s just me. When I’m tired or bored of the “me” represented in what you’re writing, I drop you and find someone else who is more “me”.

If all we’re going to teach ourselves about these technologies is the four basic setup steps, these technologies won’t act as anything more than a place to live the fantasies we have of ourselves. And the technologies we decide to use, if all they do is feed the fantasy of importance, will never add anything positive and lasting to our lives.

The problem with communication technology is if you don’t have more than the basic grasp of how it works it will come back and bite you on the ass. Every time we use “Points” or “Air Miles” cards, for example, we willingly give a third-party company you’ve never heard of access to the most intimate details of your life.

I’ve written before about the dangers of throwing billy clubs around the living room of our glass house. Communications technologies make it very easy to reach out and judge someone. They make it very easy for people like Tara to initiate a series of events two thousand miles away which result in a friend of mine having to explain to the police — who keep records — she wasn’t killing her children.

But people like Tara, who I’m sure is a wonderful mother, don’t understand their personal history is also available online through a simple search. It’s something they must become aware of in case they were to pull a stunt like this on someone who, unlike Thordora, would be willing to retaliate in kind**.

The social networking arm of communications technology is in its infancy, we’re still learning how this all works and what this is going to accomplish as a social experiment. Hopefully the annoying pieces like Twitter will be useful in some capacity as a bear trap for people who want to turn the Internet into a police state so they can tweet about the police knocking on their neighbour’s door.

*which is just… retarded. Either Tara can’t use Google, or wasn’t nearly as interested in saving the children as she tweeted. There are roughly thirteen provincial and territorial government sponsored child protection agencies in Canada, as well as all kinds of NGO’s. There are also dozens and dozens of police agencies. None of which block calls from the United States.

The tiny amount of effort Tara put into this “rescue” — by only calling one random agency a couple of times before giving up — proves to me she was in it for the tweets, and nothing but the tweets. Or maybe she figured Canada turns our phone off at 8pm.

**I was torn about including a link to Tara’s website. Despite using her name this post isn’t about her. But she and her friends are still tweeting and commenting about Thordora, and that pisses me off. To be honest the whole thing pisses me off… what I’ve really wanted to do since this thing started is post Tara’s address, and the phone numbers and addresses of her family under the heading “glass houses”… maybe even include the number for the Harrisburg detachment of the Pennsylvania State Police.

I won’t. But I will link to her site. And if she wants help making her web presence a little less high profile I’ll even suggest a few options. Thordora asked me to remove the link to Tara’s blog, so I’ve removed the hotlink for a cold one… which I’ve also removed. This post is not about Tara, it’s about other stuff. Go ahead, read it and find out… all the words are even spelled properly.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, crazy people with no pants, Health, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Tweet Tweet I Want To Kill Your Children LOL

  1. thordora says:

    At this point, there’s so much backpadling and “tweet deletion” (I think) going on that I’m just stomping my feet and tired of yelling that I’m not a monster.

    I am not a bad mother. As one commentor said, this IS all about that.

    And yes, I’ve been spanked by my idiocy. I never understood the stranger follow. Now I know why. Now I’m locked down-I never cared before enough to do so-I care now.

    Regardless of her dialing or not-SHE instigated ALL of this by retweeting what I said to her ENTIRE group-around 1k of people. You can’t hand the gun to someone and claim innocence if someone gets shot. And this feels like what’s she’s done.

    There were no emails to me-if she read the site even briefly, she would have found repeat commentors she could have contacted if she was worried-what good would HER group do?

    Fuck gabe. The whole thing is a clusterfuck started by my own idiocy. But how it’s playing out…I’m doing what I can to limit the exposure, but it’s the internet.

    In the interests of NOT being the monster, I ask that you take her link down. Upon thinking, I’m taking it down from my post. Doesn’t feel right anymore. Point has been made.

    thanks though. I hate being a future cautionary tale. 🙂

  2. dw says:

    i’m not familiar with ‘tweets’, ‘tweeting’, or having been ‘tweeted’, but i feel an almost virginal sense of satisfaction that i’m blissfully ignorant upon reading this.

    that being said, the inane douchebaggery of internet twats never ceases to amaze me.

    now if you’ll excuse me, i have children to beat.

    but don’t tweet me, man.

  3. loopykate says:

    Mint post. I know I shouldn’t laugh but you had me snickering there at the lamentable interfering dumbfuckery of some folk. I’m sorry that it effected your friend so.
    Anyway – I’ve got a child and I’ve half a mind to go and throttle her although I think that’s the half-mind that combusted several years ago.
    I’m gonna steer clear of twitter/twatter – whatever it’s called. Thanx for the warning!
    Kate.

  4. Kelby says:

    I’m sorry, but it’s a bit asinine that you straight out describe her clearly IDIOTIC tweet that she would smother her kids as the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded room (one of the only versions of speech not protected, and for good reason), then attack Tara for reacting as anyone with any concern for children would.

    Sorry, but I have a dark sense of humor and my kids make me crazy plenty of times. I would never joke about smothering them. That isn’t even funny. Beyond that, I would never publicly announce it to the world. What the hell was she THINKING?

    What if she was serious? We would all be blogging about how no one did anything and an innocent child was killed.

    And no, this is NOT all about whether she is a good mother. This is all about whether her children were safe. They are. Be thankful. There was no way whatsoever for anyone to know if her children were safe. The fact that she doesn’t see her children’s safety as the most important thing, not how SHE feels or was inconvenienced, is even more telling. I’m sorry she was put out by a police visit at night. That is inconvenient. But since the threat to kill her children was a joke (cracking up over here), where is the problem? And if someone says they plan to smother their children and they are NOT safe, better safe than sorry.

  5. Amy says:

    I can’t get beyond one MAJOR oversight on the part of ThorDora as well as the author of this blog. Tara. Did. Not. Call. Police. Do you know who did? Twitter – finding ThorDora’s address through her ISP. Because what your article doesn’t explain is that you can forget the online community – the site itself has a LEGAL (no moral high ground here) obligation to follow up on “jokes” about people killing their children.

    Before you burn Tara at the stake, perhaps you should get all of the facts, just as you wished Tara had.

  6. Gabriel... says:

    Actually, Kelby, you should read the transcript before you go being all judgemental and stuff. The comment went like this:

    “if I smother my 3 year old, who will NOT GO TO FUCKING SLEEP, is it REALLY a crime?”

    You can read all Thordora’s tweets up until that one on her site, here. And they’re all as funny and meaningless as any other tweet you’ll ever read. Including…

    going to bed now-hoping I don’t dream about pink lipstick and frosted tips @eringoblog 11:42 PM Jan 2nd from web

    Dear yuppies. Blocking the entire aisle in the grocery store does NOT make you cool. It makes you ANNOYING like the old ladies. 11:27 PM Jan 2nd from web

    And, Amy, “Tara” made a couple of calls using a Canada-specific 800 number to an unspecified “child protection agency”. She was so concerned about the welfare of Thordora’s children she couldn’t be bothered to make a long distance call. Or call any one of the several law enforcement agencies we have in this country, or even to call her own local Penn State Troopers so they could call their counterparts in Canada.

    Tara’s tweets:

    ”I need a person in Canada to make a toll free call for me. I can’t call from the US, the number goes to the wrong place. DM me if u can help ”

    ”I didn’t. I tried to call ChildProtectiveServices in Canada, but I couldn’t bc I’m in US. Whoever called did so quietly.”

    Tara’s complete and total overreaction brought others into the situation.

    Having the police show up at her door was more than an inconvenience for Thordora, who was completely innocent of any Twitter fantasy’s. It means there are records now. It means she could have had her children taken from her and placed into foster care, even if just for a night.

    Tara, at no point, cared enough about those kids to get involved beyond sending a tweet to her thousand subscribers. Tara invented this situation and now people, such as yourselves, are rewriting the entire event.

    So… tough. None of the facts are on your side. All you have is some random plea of “think of the children” which, at no point on that evening, had any validity. Thordora made a joke, it was an obvious joke within the context of her previous tweets. But someone saw it as a stand alone comment and stupidly overreacted.

    The “think of the children” argument creates an instinctual need to protect. It’s really all you’ve got.

  7. Kelby says:

    Wow, you really got me. She said “if I smother my children.” Such a distinction. I had no idea. That is completely different than saying she would smother her children. It’s a whole different story now.
    *snort*

    Get real. And move on.

  8. Gabriel... says:

    You don’t get humour without the appropriate emoticon, and you find it necessary to point out your sarcasm… it’s okay. What Thor is using is called absurdist humour, or tragicomedy. It’s using ridiculous imagery to make a point. If you saw it in context I’m sure you’d eventually see it…

  9. anon says:

    Tara did NOT instigate it, it was being discussed before Tara tweeted about it. Her first reaction was to assume it was a joke in poor taste, hence the response in her twitter stream about unfollowing.

    Tara was not the first person to bring it up and to consider calling someone about it. There were conversations going on behind the scenes in direct messages and IMs. People were trying to figure out if Thordora meant it, or if she was joking. I initially dismissed it as a joke, but then became uncertain upon reading more of her site and twitter steam. Multiple mentions of killing her kids, interspersed with wonderful love letters paints a very troubled picture. Many mothers that snap and kill their kids (and themselves) are actually very loving. They just reach a breaking point.

    There are laws in place that say that if you break someone’s ribs trying to give them CPR, they can’t sue you. This is because if there was the threat of a lawsuit, no one would perform CPR and people would die.

    If people like you and Thordora attack a woman for being concerned about a child, the ultimate result is that people who see the attacks will think twice about helping child.

    One in three girls today will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Infants, toddlers and children are killed every day by parents and by babysitters.

    The world needs MORE people concerned and willing to intervene, not fewer. Yes, in the case of Thordora seems to have not been necessary.

    But she threatened her children’s lives on a social networking site. Yes, it was done in jest, and yes the world knows that now.

    But what if it hadn’t been in jest?

    What if someone had intervened in the Caylee Anthony case? What if someone had intervened in the case where a stepfather picked up his toddler by his feet and bashed his head against the wall until the child was dead? What if someone had called the police to the screaming of the infant whose mother cut off his arms? Or to the screaming of the infant whose mother died from postpartum hemmorhage, and who starved to death in her crib because no one thought to knock on the door?

    The internet is an extension of our society. And if we voice thoughts of harming our children without making damned sure that it’s an obvious joke, then someone should have the courage to check in on us.

    Had Tara or any of the people that re-tweeted, private messaged, instant messaged, etc. had Thordora’s phone number, they would have called. They did not, and so the only option was to try to get in touch with someone who had the ability to find out where she lived.

    Had her child been in danger, there was a clock ticking.

    Speaking as someone who was abused as a child, I wish my warning signs hadn’t been ignored. I wore them on my sleeve hoping someone would ask. And no one ever did. I felt worthless and useless and sub-human because I KNEW that they saw the signs. They just didn’t say anything, and so I assumed I deserved it.

    Children need more whistle blowers, not fewer.

  10. Gabriel... says:

    Tara sent out tweets to all of her little tweet-maniacs. Then she tried calling a child service agency in Canada. Then she tried to get others involved. But, like I said in the post, she is not specifically what I’m writing about in this post.

    And, of course, what about the children? Again. The only way it applies to Thordora’s case is if I get to call the cops on anyone for any sign of bad parenting on their blogs and Twitters. Drink too much? Busted. Loud sex? Hardly the environment for a child. Spanking? Well, damn…

    There are two issues here:

    1. Samuel Beckett needs to be taught in more schools

    2. because people have access to dial-up they believe they’ve been given a licence to not think or reflect on what they’re doing.

    I am now going to bed. If you want to comment keep it under 800 words. It’s a rule.

  11. Gina says:

    Gabriel, what you just compared in your last comment was bad behavior & bad parenting to threatening to MURDER.

    Do I think Tara over-reacted? Yeah……probably. Tara was NOT the one that contacted the police though. And Tara was NOT the only person who thought this wasn’t a joke.

    What you failed to mention……..and looking around at your blog it’s clear to see how you’re connected with Thordora so maybe it’s obvious to your readers, is when you look at her Twitter profile and go to her blog you see on the front page mention of Bi-Polar and there was mention of her harming herself or trying to kill herself.

    THAT is where I would jump to a conclusion & worry. A mentally ill person just threatened to kill her child???

    Why would she take the time to tweet about it before doing it? Stranger things have happened. People have written pages of diatribe, recorded videos & taken the time to do all kinds of things prior to actually committing the murder.

    The vile behavior all of Thordora’s “friends” are inflicting on Tara is disgusting & it’s been proven just on the comments here on the blog. Using vulgar language, calling names, making blanket statements…….so very mature & intelligent!!! What good does that actually do? It was a mistake, she’s apologized for it.

  12. thordora says:

    OMFG! VILE LANGUAGE! ON THE INTERNET!!! RUN! RUN AWAY!

    And no, at no point has she apologized for ANYTHING. I now will live in fear that my children will be TAKEN from me, while she sits back and comments about how her Technorati ranking has gone up.

    I am doing what I can to keep people in line on my site-no one if inflicting anything on her-especially considering the traffic I am GETTING from her twitter feed and her friends.

    and oh NO! If you knew any stats, you’d realize that people like YOU, yes, NORMAL people actually commit more violent crime! That people like ME should FEAR you. NOT the other way around.

    If you were EDUCATED, you would realize that there is ZERO correlation between mental disease and incidence of murder. Suicide, yes, I’m at a 20-30% risk of offing myself.

    And obviously, my choice of who to interact with is poor. I find it odd that all these “concerned” people were NOT people following me feed, but following hers.

    Please stop making stuff up. It’s nauseating.

    Sorry for the soap box Gabe. I’m increasingly tired of this stuff, expecially since no one aside from a random one or two have the cojones to come to my site, or email me about any of this.

    Heh.

    Hope you got some sleep. 🙂

  13. thordora says:

    and I didn’t spell check. blerh. I’ve got Firefly to watch!

  14. Hannah says:

    Once again the comments have veered off into arguing, and anyone who’s been to Thor’s site knows which side of this argument I come down on, so let me just say:

    This is the best, most rational post I’ve seen about this whole mess. THANK YOU for writing it. And now I’m off to make myself safely anonymous.

  15. dw says:

    i really feel for Thor on this one.

    and i wonder how often these so called internet good samaritans are so ‘actively involved’ in their direct communities/society. i’d go so far to guess little to none. how simple it must be to dramatize an online situation and feel ‘effective’ in some bogus supposed intervention ‘for thee poor leetle children’. Harsh, i’m feeling.
    Fuckers, i’m thinking.
    I had some real bullshit take place on my blog once upon a time, and it pretty much screwed blogging up for me permanently — i just couldn’t shake the shitty nature of it, and as hard as i tried to get back to it, it foreshadowed everything i wrote to a point where the efforts weren’t worth it. (and the content went to shit)
    But now, after reading all of this, and the ridiculous shit people have put her thru, i’ll never reveal a single thing (humorous or otherwise) on the internet again. Fuck that.
    I hope Thor gets past this in tact, and keeps her perspective. Because some people do rely on their outlet(s) to vent, relate, and communicate; and there really ARE good people out there. Meddling assholes with nothing better to do than save the world (anonymously) one ‘tweet’ at a time really need some fucking purpose in life. I suggest they start animal shelters or buy some fucking sea monkeys or something. It’s pathetic.
    i hope this is under 800 words. i’m not counting (or censoring), so please forgive me if i’m over the top, Gabriel. I’ll buy back all my vowels. promise.

    and best wishes to Thor.

  16. brahnamin says:

    Comments are a trainwreck, but the post is awesome dude. Of course you can’t write a post like this without attracting all the wingnuts like flies to a bugzapper.

    Internet isolation is, IMO, going to be the cause of much grief over the next couple decades. Because it basically takes road-rage to a level of safety and autonomy that it just doesn’t have when you have to worry that the other guy might have a gun in the glovebox.

    Thing is, that safety is just as big an illusion on the web as it is in meatworld.

  17. bromac says:

    Gina,

    You are very, very ignorant about mental disease. Please do not comment on the topic unless you actually KNOW what you’re talking about. Try walking a fucking step in any one of our shoes.

    Not sorry for the vulgarity because I am an adult and I am very mature and very educated and I can use whatever damn language I want when I’m talking on a social network. But, oh god, I am mental and cursing. Call the cops, please. I’m about to go off a bunch of people b/c I have a mental illness and I curse.

  18. d_S says:

    PS. Twitter DID NOT trace the ISP or call the police. Even the Twitter gods @al3x that Tara contacted got the fact that it WAS SARCASM. So get your #storystraight and quit trying to rewrite what happened with your revisionist history. TWITTER DID NOT TAKE ACTION.

    al3x @Feelslikehome To protect the child from sarcasm? You can email abuse@twitter.com if you think there’s a genuine problem.

  19. Good post but can Gina go read a book about mental illness or something? Thanks.

    I’m off to kill my kids, cheerio! Oh wait, I don’t have any kids but I’m MENTALLY ILL so I’ll go kill someone elses’ just to fulfil the kid-killing quota that everyone with mental illness has to comply by.

  20. Immi says:

    Uh oh, we better go call someone about Seaneen too. *snort*
    Yes, there is almost always someone who can misunderstand or who can sensationalize whatever it is we say. And often there is someone who does. Sux but that’s the way it is.

  21. Gabriel... says:

    Well the good news is I finally have a 5.1 surround sound system… the bad news is the bass unit isn’t grounded properly so it hums at an annoying level. Seriously, if my kid made a noise like this I’d toss him out into the snowbank as well.

    Second… I updated the top of this post to include the tweet which set off this farce. I also included a definition of “absurdism”, for reasons which will become obvious to anyone interested in finding out.

    Third, I don’t actually have a kid. But if I did, and he made a noise like my bass unit, I’d chuck him into a snowbank.

    Now… this post had a couple of goals. One was to point out the lunacy of Twitter. I think I did that very well — people leave 30 word messages which have no context which others read and assign their own context.

    A couple of people are so enamoured with their 30 word philosophical fantasies that they believed, based on a twenty word ridiculous question, they and only they could save children who were never in any harm.

    Based entirely on a twenty word ridiculous question, calls were made to a child protective services agency in another country, desperate messages were sent to and fro, people worked their way into a twitter-frenzy and police officers were dispatched to an innocent woman’s home where her children had to present themselves to said police officers in the middle of the night.

    A woman who did nothing wrong had to present her children to police officers in the middle of the night based on the need of a couple of bored Twitters to have something to tweet about.

    An innocent woman was forced to wake her children and present them to police officers based on the ignorance of a few people.

    Two small girls, as a result of a silly tweet, had to stand in front of two police officers and promise them their mommy would never hurt them.

    Two young children named Vivian and Rosalyn stood bleary eyed and still half asleep and in their little pajamas before two police officers, and swore to them their mommy would never hurt them.

    A mother was humiliated in front of her husband and in front of her two little girls because someone needed a tweet. Because someone forced their idealized neighbourhood values onto the faceless, context-free twenty word post.

    Which leads me to the second goal… point of this post. The Internet is a big place. Far larger than Twitter, and far larger than someone’s individual blog and/or website. Thordora has learned this in a way which is complete overkill. If you have your real name attached to your blog people can find you.

    I’m going to repeat this… if you have your real name attached to your blog people can find you. Read that again.

    People found Thor because she forgot for a moment. But the people who attacked Thor, and yes it was an attack on an innocent woman, also have their names attached to their blogs. Which means people can find them.

    Most people who have come recently to the web, say within the last two or three years, have no clue what the Internet is and what it’s capabilities are. Especially if they stay in their little chosen boxes. Four easy steps and they have a blog and a Twitter account and a MySpace page and maybe a Facebook profile…

    Well two easy steps and someone with $10 and access to the Yellow Pages can find out how much you paid for your house; for free they can have your address, phone number and map to your home; a two step search and they can find your education history; a quick step and they know what car you drive; another step and they know the names of your closest relatives and where they live and how much they paid for their homes and their phone numbers… plus all those lovely photos from your Flickr account, your homepage, your Facebook account, your MySpace page.

    Read that paragraph again. Then again. Then print it out and post it in a well-travelled area of your home. If you have children who are online understand everything in the paragraph applies to them as well.

    People come on the Web and think it’s just like their neighbourhood, or their office. Only you’re in charge. Which means you don’t have to listen to people like that bitch in accounting, so you can smile and “unfollow” the people who annoy you and move on. And then you can clique and gossip and know your opinion matters… because you’re in charge and you can “unfollow” them at your whim. And that means something.

    Except it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean a goddamn fucking thing. Being on Twitter, sending tweets, having a blog with 2,600,000 hits or having 224 friends on Facebook doesn’t mean a fucking thing. You, You and You, do not get to impose your severely limited moral values on me, my friend Thor or anyone else.

    Nothing was accomplished by your little Twitter-game except the humiliation of a good, and totally innocent woman. And now, instead of unconditionally apologizing, a number of you are sitting back and smugly declaring “well, think about the children.” Well, their names are Vivian and Rosalyn and they had to stand and, in their pajamas and wiping the sleep from their eyes, tell two police officers their mommy never hurt them.

    You, just like me, get to be judged by our friends, our family and our community. You are not my community. You are not Thordora’s community. You have no insight into our lives in any way. To you we are twenty-word tweets. You don’t get to interfere in our lives. Especially, especially, when your entire experience of us is based entirely on a twenty word piece of humour which you didn’t get.

  22. dumbwaiter says:

    Some busy-body in PA decides that a comment is not appropriate, creates scenarios in her head, and after it’s all done with, proves to herself that morality has been served, and she is a good person.

    What she doesn’t understand, and hopefully she’ll safely realize is that once something is on the Internet, it doesn’t ever, ever go away.

    So maybe she’ll stop posting pictures of her daughter, pole dancing, and making references to her having something to fall back on, if college doesn’t work out, her words Jan 12th, 2008, and maybe she’ll stop posting pictures of her daughter bathing on the Internet, January 20th, 2008.

    Maybe I should contact Child Services, because the law provides an exemption for parents or guardians to photograph their unclothed children for certain purposes, but those who also distributed the image to others could face separate charges for distributing illegal material. If charged and convicted, they might be required to register as a sex offender, which will stay on their record for years.

    AM I a busy body? Am I concerned about the welfare of the child?

    No. Because I’ve looked through her whole site, and I realize that she is a loving and caring mother, albeit quite naive about the Internet.

    Which, is what the whole blog post is about, people not realizing the power, and effect of their actions.

    [note: Tara has since taken the photo down.]

  23. thordora says:

    Somedays friend, you take my breath away.

  24. I didn’t know Thor was a Firefly fan. That was a darn fun show.

    Gabe, you ever read a book called Little Brother? It’s available for free online from a bunch of sources. It’s kinda neat.

  25. dumbwaiter says:

    SAlted, the comments come directly from her blog, and yes she had, since removed, three pictures of her daughter dancing with a pole from her jumparoo, which she shared with a baby bulletin board, she said in her post of January 20th 2008, that “When a friend asked me about it, I joked “At least she’ll have something to fall back on if college doesn’t work out.”

  26. markps2 says:

    It is ironic, the safety valve of a joke to express a feeling, gets percieved literaly by a stupid person. To joke about something shows sanity in my opinion . While emotional abuse of “Take this pill , be a good boy or else we drug you into goodness”, that is invisible is not perceived by the literalist because the control drug is “medicine”.

  27. Pingback: Symptomatic Of Nothing And Some Links You Need To Blog Safely « …salted lithium.

  28. tyriq says:

    @DW. That “I have children to beat” was too funny after reading this blog. rofl. My eyes are just about red from laughing.

  29. Pingback: How To Protect Yourself From The People Who Want To Find You « …salted lithium.

  30. thebrand says:

    As someone who has worked in places where “thinking of the children” is actually a real issue (as a teacher, a children’s counselor, and in social assistance programs), I have to say that most of the time when people say “think of the children” they are not thinking of the children at all.

    Life is complex, and social and family situations are very complex, multifaceted, and always, always, always contextual. Good teachers faced with children who may be subjects of abuse, parents who may need education about different subjects, mental illness in families, and a million related subjects have to think long and hard about how and how deeply to respond. You find yourself caught between a child, their family, yourself, and the community — often with no good, clear answers. Doing nothing may result in terror, doing too much will result in terror, and finding the right balance between is hard, hard, hard.

    And in all these cases the people I’m thinking about are people who actually know each other, who are actually in a community together, and who actually have either 1) training or 2) a community of trained folks to fall back on.

    What we saw here was a place where none of those things was present. People had no idea what was going on, no understanding of the context, no training in how to deal with it, no community of people who knew what they were doing to ask. We had blind leading the blind, floating about frantically without context or recourse.

    Its a terrible place to be. Its easy, in that moment, to feel the weight of what could happen if you do nothing and were wrong. Its especially easy because you don’t have anyone who actually knows how to deal with these situations in a measured, professional manner to back it up. You don’t have context, you don’t have community, and so what is on the other end of the clicky box becomes the sum of all fears.

    And thats what people are thinking about. Not the children, but their own fears and uncertainties. And so I have to agree with the main article — that’s all narcissism. It isn’t “what will happen to the children” it is “how will I feel about me if I, about me, don’t do something about this situation that has very little to do with me, but in which I am important because I am the Me making the decisions about me and my response.”

    If we’d all actually been thinking about the children, I have to imagine a different, more moderated but still firm, result would have occurred.

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