Do you remember that? Hilarious! Mis-communication has always made for great comedy. Who’s on First, Three’s Company, the list goes on. Sometmes though, the results of miscommunication are not so funny, like last week on Twitter.
There was a mini Twitterversy this weekend (that’s Twitter + controversy). Evidently, a mom tweeted about hurting her child which alarmed several of her followers. The police were notified and arrived at her home late that night. They insisted on seeing her child and making sure the child was okay and in addition there is a file opened on this family at Child Protective Services. Turns out the mom was just using colorful language and the child was fine, but man, what an ordeal! So now colorful mom is PISSED at one of her Twitter friends for notifying the authorities. I mean, it is no small deal to have a file at Child Protective Services and no small invasion to have the police come to your house and demand to see your child. Who knows all the inconveniences and indignities that this mom had to suffer because of this misunderstanding. Did the police treat her like a criminal? Were they rude? Did they wake up the child? Did they take off their shoes when they came in the house (big deal for me)?
On the other hand, several of her followers were really concerned. They thought that her child was in serious danger. I mean, in this day and age can you really blame them? We have the YouTube suicide and MySpace suicide as high profile examples of violence and social media mixing. We have plenty of recent high profile cases of violence against children such as this, this and this. How would you feel if you were the one that saw that tweet, did nothing and the next day you read about it in the papers?
I think the most important thing to note here is context or lack thereof. Let me tell you…I have a lot of mommy friends, and I have certainly heard some violent talk.
from a homeschooling mom of three under 5: It’s about to be a triple homicide.
from a stressed out married/single mom of two: I’m about to bodyslam these two!
from the mother of a particularly precocious 4 year old: I’m about to slap the crap out of her!
These are real comments and even as I type them, I feel their impact differently than when I heard them. You see, I know all of these mothers (confession: one of the above statements escaped my own lips…not telling which one) and I know that they all love their children deeply and sincerely. Not only that, but I know that they are all incredibly dedicated, conscious parents. It is actually their committment to giving their all to parenting that creates the stress that leads to violent thoughts. Because I know them, because I heard the tone of their voice when the comments were made, because these comments were made as part of an ongoing conversation that began when we became sistermoms….I knew their kids were not in danger. However, people need to understand that your Twitter followers are not your FRIENDS. These people don’t know you! You cannot talk in the Twitterverse like you would to a close girlfriend. They have no context in which to place your comments and that inevitably leads to miscommunication.
Remember people, this is why emoticons were created; to give more context to electronic communication. LOL, ROFL, IMHO…all of these exist to help with the lack of nonverbal cues that are present in the spoken word. And even then, these are only taken into the context of the WHOLE relationship. For example, if your frenemy, who is always insulting you, sends you an e-mail with a semi-nasty closing line and includes a ‘lol’, are you really going to believe that she was just kidding? Of course not. However the same e-mail from a true friend probably wouldn’t bother you.
So remember, there is no context in cyberspace….choose your words carefully! And, tell the truth….haven’t you ever had a violent thought or two about your little ones?
After typing those violent words I have a new idea for a blogpost about how our culture of violence is infiltrating our subconcious. Good grief! Those words sound read terribly.