Don’t Tell Me How To Do This

Go read Sars and all her commenters and then come back.

The short version of this whole clusterfuck is this: A woman Tweeted that her young son had been in an accident and asked for prayers, then followed up that he had died. Another woman proceeded to question if the death had really occurred, and to do so publicly and in a hectoring fashion. In observing variouspseuicides and hoaxes being outed over at Fandom Wank, I’ve learned that really the best thing to do if you suspect someone is faking their pain for sympathy or cash is to shut the fuck up and wait because the truth always comes out. And if you’ve kept quiet, then you don’t look like an asshole as the questioner in this case did when it became public knowledge that the death was real, and terrible.

The need to be right in public is a powerful thing. Moreover, the need to be the defender of the innocent in every little thing from breakfast cereal on up so as to cast yourself in an important role is a powerful thing. And writing something and putting it out there in public, which is what you do on your Twitter feed and your Facebook profile and this here blogosphere thingy, automatically opens it up for criticism. That some people don’t know this is publication, because of the false sense of intimacy a tight-knit online community can give them, doesn’t make it any less published. And published means it can be carped upon by the biggest assholes on the planet.

But this isn’t about how posting personal shit means you’re asking for it, because it doesn’t. This is about how we need to QUIT BEING DICKS TO OTHER PEOPLE. Seriously. Quit telling people how to grieve or worry or fear or cope. Quit it. The only reason to lecture someone else about his or her grieving is to point out what a superior person you are for alone knowing how to do this right. Fuck you. Just shut up. You’re not doing anybody any good. There is no way to earn Valedictorian of Mourning, and so long as it’s not a contest who fucking cares if I’m winning it? The only thing that has kept me sane during the past three months of suck has been the 347 consecutive games of Word Twist a friend and I play on Facebook every day. Does that make me a shitty person? You might say so. I don’t care.

We all lose our minds a little when part of the world drops out from under us. We all do crazy, crazy shit that doesn’t make any sense to anybody but us. We cut our hair off, sleep with the TV on, have sex with people we shouldn’t, drink too much, go for cross-country bike rides, stop talking to everybody, quit our jobs, get tattoos, drive too fast. We say things that make other people look at us cross-eyed. That’s just how it works. The world’s been wrenched into a new shape and we have to figure out how to live in it, each of us alone. You can’t figure it out for me and I can’t figure it out for you, so if what I’m doing seems nuts to you, well guess what? What you’ll do in a week or a month or a year will seem just as nuts to me. Calm down. My hair will grow back.


9 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Me How To Do This

  1. I read that, and I don’t think the issue is that McGraw doesn’t think it happened; it’s that she thinks Ross was OMG an irresponsible mother because she’d been Tweeting all day, and the last one came about 1 minute before her middle son was dialing 911. The insinuation–hell the blatant statement–McGraw made was, “Perhaps if Mrs. Ross had spent less time Tweeting and more time playing with her son, this would not have happened.”
    Then McGraw wanted to know who would Tweet to ask for prayers as her son was being worked on in the hospital. As someone in a similar situation (albeit with a seriously injured pet in surgery), I know that sometimes it helps just to know folks are directing positive energy, prayers, thoughts, whatever you call it, in your direction.
    The upshot is a mom lost her child. Until I’m omnipotent, I’ll reserve judgment as to what happened.

  2. How about reserving judgment permanently?
    I’ve talked with A about shit like this before. Like, say, when a little girl gets hit by a stray bullet, and asshole commenters say things like “Well, if they would have moved out of that neighborhood.” Or when some woman gets raped, and asshole commenters/advice columnists tell her that she should have exercised better judgment. The fucking beat goes on and on.
    Bad shit happens, people. Often for no reason at all. Unless it’s your personal business, shut the fuck up. This song ain’t about you.
    Now, since this McGraw asshole has decided to sit in judgment, and do so publicly, I have no problem calling her an asshole, and doing so publicly. When you’re condemning someone with a counterfactual, you are a fucking asshole. Especially when that someone has a dead child. I don’t like kids, but I understand that a lot of people who have them get very attached to the little motherfuckers. Some poor parent is upset about the death of her child; if you’re gonna say anything, give a condolence, then move along. Just don’t start with the I’m-better/smarter/wiser/more virtuous-than-you-and-here’s-how-I-would-have-done-the-right-thingbullshit that so many people wrap themselves in like a warm blanket, so that they don’t ever have to worry about anything bad happening to them. No, bad things only happen to other people, because they’ve done something to deserve it. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Awful shit happens all the time–sometimes because other people are jerks, sometimes through our own inattention, and sometimes just because the universe is a cold and uncaring place that doesn’t give a fuck about your happiness, or your existence at all. I wonder: when the inevitable personal tragedies strike this McGraw asshole’s life, will said asshole blame herself the way said asshole so freely blames others?
    I kind of doubt it.

  3. Unfortunately, we’ve followed a path from cherishing privacy, to making most things public, to now a predictable pattern of an item being posted followed by a predicatable flurry of argument over whether the event was true (or micromanaging the actions taken without any real knowledge of the circumstances) – often with very vehement outbursts (some possibly legitimate, others from pre-adolescents attempting to cause trouble).

  4. “Bad shit happens, people. Often for no reason at all. Unless it’s your personal business, shut the fuck up. This song ain’t about you. ”
    I couldn’t agree more. With your entire post.
    There are way too many judgemental people out there. They think they know everything. Most times, they are lacking in facts, deny reality or are just plain fucking stupid.
    Everybody grieves differently. The same person may grieve different about two separate incidents, albeit alike incidents.
    Again, you are right.
    People DO need to sit down and shut the fuck up!

  5. First, as one of the commenters over there said, the idea that Ross would make those posts about her son doesn’t seem strange or out of place to me at all. Second, while I do know a lot of people who would find it strange, I can honestly say, I can’t imagine ANY of them, no matter how much they disapproved of her actions, attacking a woman who had just lost a child to a tragedy, responding to that parent’s reaching out with hatred and judgment. Third,it seems obvious (to me) that whatever her initial instinct to respond was, McGraw kept up with it afterwards for sheerly opportunistic reasons. To me, that’s truly the sickest part of all this.

  6. Well, here’s my confusion: isn’t the whole damn point of Twitter is to be a snapshot into a person’s daily life? Which is part of what makes it so stupid (“Eating cornflakes right now. Tasty!”), but also it is going to inevitably take us into ugly parts of people’s lives. I think that’s what this mother violated: the assumption that Twitter is all about fun, happy and trivial things. She went and dropped a bummer bomb in the Twitter party.

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