The Running Commentary

Think before you Tweet, Blog, Write or speak…


As many of you will know I am on Twitter and really enjoy this space in terms of the ability to interact with an entirely new set of people. People that I would perhaps have never had the privilege of meeting had it not been for this forum.

One of the people that I follow mentioned that Twitter was going to become the realm of breaking news and conventional journalism would morph into analysis of the events. This in my opinion is certainly proving to be happening at a rapid rate. As I was sitting down to write this, the news of Manto Tshabala’s death came through one of the people I follow.

In fact the style of the Tweet led me to conclude that the news was already some hours old. Reading the news services already the analysis is starting and further claims and revelations are bound to come to light. 

One of the other issues that I picked up yesterday was the death of a toddler in the Florida area in the United States. The child died in their backyard pool.  What got to me the story was simply a tweet with the words Millitary_Mom you are in our thoughts and prayers.  I clicked on the reply link and picked up the awful story.

I then picked up some even more worrying tweets, which were directed at Millitary_Mom questioning whether her child had in fact died. This was based on “reliable” connections in the police forces who could not find any record of the occurrence.  Many of the people questioning her were citing a previous hoax in the form of Balloon Boy in which people were hoaxed, by the parents of a boy; into believing their son had floated away in a balloon (you can Google it to get the full Wiki). These people were asking for proof of the claim, given the balloon boy saga.

 In addition to this it appears as if Millitary_Mom in fact announced the death of the toddler via twitter. She had in fact earlier asked the Twitter universe to pray as she had just found her child in the pool.

Many people may be questioning why Millitary_Mom would announce her child’s death on Twitter and cannot understand this.  I could see their reason for questioning, but the manner in which they did it was simply unacceptable.  The fact that they could find no credible proof in the hours following the incident did not in fact reverse the fact that it had happened. 

These people will now be justifying why they did this based on the balloon boy event, but what they fail to acknowledge is that they made a huge error in questioning in the first place. Some people it seems want to hold themselves out to be the slayers of people who spread hoaxes and will stop at nothing to achieve this result.

This death was an unfortunate accident and this mother is now without her child.  

Breaking news is always going to just be that, if people (mothers for example) choose to use Twitter as a place to seek support and guidance, then this is their right. If you disagree, then certainly you have the right to do this. What you cannot do, is request proof from the person you are seeking to “uncover”.  If you do not believe the story then you should investigate in silence, ensuring that you have all of the facts before you start to refute somebody’s claims.

Commentary and accusation without proof or substance is not to be tolerated.

The sad truth is that the people chasing this proof ultimately got it and it was the worst kind of proof you could image. The mother had lost her child and therefore she was right all along. As a father I wish that she did not have to face this reality every dad and wish her and her family Godspeed.

Think before you Tweet, Blog, Write or Speak – this is your responsibility

ballon boybloggingclaimsNewsresponsibilityspeaktragedyTWITTERwrite

Mike • December 16, 2009

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