Monday, May 30, 2016

Social Media Hate Storms

Just south of where we live, at the Cinncinati Zoo, a gorilla was shot dead when a child fell into its enclosure. The ensuing hate storm on social media scares me sick.

When did we become a nation of people without mercy or compassion? This situation is a tragedy all the way around. The zoo's enclosure wasn't fool-proof, or five-year-old proof. That will, no doubt, be fixed. But the hate and scorn and derision leveled at this boy's mother shocks me.

Who among us parents has never had a preschooler slip away from us? I lost Jack at the Cinncinati Museum one day. One second he was right beside me, and the next he was gone. The following 15 minutes of my life took at least 15 years off my life. He was safe. But it all escalated in an instant.

Who among us has perfect attention, perfect awareness, perfect control of our our children at all times, every minute of every day, in every situation?

Not. One. Of. Us.

So why the scorn? Why the hate? Why the desire to humiliate and punish and tear down a mother who was, like all of us, human? Because we've become a culture of blame and reactionism, and social media gives us the perfect outlet. Everything is somebody's fault, and we use social media to shame and condemn others, full of righteous certainty that we are better than that person.

"I would NEVER lose control of my child at a zoo. I would NEVER look at the animals instead of my own child when visiting a zoo. I would NEVER assume that zoo enclosures are child-proof."


Of course some things are criminal and blame-worthy. But this is determined by courts of law and due process, not Facebook page or post likes. Thank God and our country's Founding Fathers for that.

Long before social media gave everyone a format for expressing their hate, people passed judgment on others without mercy and without taking time to consider our universal human condition. In the early 1990s, a coworker's son drowned in a lake on the Fourth of July. People refused to contribute to the fund we collected for funeral expenses because they didn't want to help the parents in any way. Their negligence allowed their son to die, their reasoning went, so why should they give them any help?

These parents have lived every day since knowing their responsibility for their son's death, pondering "if only we had...." I cannot even imagine their pain and suffering and guilt. My heart broke for them.

Despite all our best efforts, accidents happen.

Let he or she who has not sinned cast the first stone. Instead of blame being our first reaction in social media, let's offer compassion, or at the very least silence. Let's humbly recognize that we could, at any time, become like that mother...guilty of being a human being.

Mercy. Grace. Compassion. Love. These four tools give us what we need to fight the hate storm in social media.

How will you use them?


  1. I so agree with your view! People feel they can hide behind the anonymity social media gives. We've all made mistakes. We don't need to elevate our failings by bringing others down.

  2. Susan, you are so right. We are all human, all the same.
    The hurt and pain engendered by Social Media is inestimable. Why one would feed the need to feel superior to another by anonymous finger-pointing, shame and blame is a mystery. It's a nasty, hateful, never-ending cycle that feeds on itself bringing no true inner peace.
    Constant turmoil is no way to live/exist. Unplug.

    1. Unplugging, even if just for a short time, is certainly helpful!

  3. This is so well written and gets to the heart of huge issue. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They are truly inspired by your faith in Christ.

    1. Thanks, Lynn. Christ told us to love one another...His New Commandment. What a world we would live in if there was more love and less hate!

  4. Very well written article, Susan. You are so right. I am not sure what I can do, but I don't do Facebook much, nor do I twitter or read twitter. Guess I will just encourage my grand children to be kind and not contribute or listen to the haters.

    1. That's a powerful way to influence the future, Jeanne!

  5. So true. I don't know any parent who hasn't lost track of their child and I know that feeling when you realize it.
    No one remembers the time a child fell into a enclosure with a female gorilla. She picked up the unconscious toddler and took the child to the door where the zookeepers delivered her food. She sat there and waited for them to come get the child.
    I do see many young parents on the hiking trail paying more attention to their phones or the other adults they're hiking with. The little ones running ahead of them and some times go off the trail. I've warned all of them rattle snakes are very common here but I get the "butt out" look. I'm no arm chair quarterback parent, so I leave it up to them.
    Mistakes happen & accidents happen

    1. I remember that incident, Lisa, and it was amazing. The male had a different agenda, at least according to a former gorilla zookeeper.

      Rattlesnakes would be enough to keep me (and my kids) off the trails and in the library. ;-)

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  7. Hello Susan: I found this blog through your sweet comment on my card at the "One Layer Simplicity Challenge" blog and I'm glad I did.
    You are correct, the way people lash out on the Internet to perfect strangers, without knowledge of the circumstances, is so horrific, so cruel and without any kind of compassion and understanding.
    People feel safe "hiding" behind a key board and a screen, non of us are perfect. I would quote Jesus: "He who is without sin, throw the first stone....."
    When our daughters were 5 and 3 years old, my husband and I were at a department store, we were there to buy a couple of lamps for our living room. I told him I was going to check the linens department real quick and I would meet him by the lamps in a few minutes. I had my 5 year old daughter with me, he took our little 3 year old with him. My daughter and I were by the bed spreads, she was just next to me, I could see her with the corner of my eye, I reached down to grab a package of a bed spread that caught my eye, I promise you, it was just a second or two and, when I turned around, my daughter was gone. The anguish I felt got caught in my throat, I immediately started calling her with no answer. I ran around looking for her, I thought I was going to pass out. My husband came to look for us and he saw me frantically calling our daughter so he started looking for her too. In our search we got to the toy department that was not far away from the linens and when I turned around one of the corners, there she was, sitting on the floor, playing with one of those Sesame Street dolls that talk when you push a button. I ran to her and just grabbed her and held her and squeezed her so hard she started to complain, I was crying so hard!! Like you said, I think I aged rapidly in those 10 minutes that seemed an eternity.
    We are so quick to judge others thinking that maybe our own mistakes will seem less serious by criticizing the mistakes of others without knowing anything about them.
    I saw a show on Dr. Phil about this woman who was accused at a mall of "abusing" her son because she was pulling him on the floor by one of those leashes for kids, (which by the way, I immediately purchased 2 after that incident with my daughter) because this other woman with a camera took video of this young mother as she was entering a store and the kid was being dragged happily and came to close to the doors. Then she posted this on face book and the video went "viral" and this poor young mother was vilified and scorned and her life was a nightmare for a long while, she had to hire a lawyer because she was taken to court as a child abuser.
    What is happening to us "humans" who think we have to be the judge and executioner of each other??
    Has it always been this way or is it that now a days, we are constantly bombarded with news as they happen, there is no rest, no brake, whatever happens in this world is in our faces immediately.
    Anyway, I think I wrote to long a "note", forgive me.
    I want to thank you again for your lovely comment on my blog, hope you visit me again soon.
    Big hugs.
    Maria Rodriguez.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!