Standing helplessly, watching her home and all her worldly possessions and treasures burn, Monica Bielanko did what many people would do — in shock and agony, she reached out to her friends.
“MY HOUSE IN FIRE. EVERYTHING WE OWN,” she cried out on Twitter, “FIREFIGHTERS SPRAYING FROM OUTSIDE. CAN’T GO IN. OH DEAIR JESUS GOD OH MY GOD EVERYTHING”.
Her friends responded as most friends do — their hearts broke over their friend’s suffering and they rallied to help her.
But then, people who were not her friends, people who don’t give a crap about her or her family, started to fling their judgement. “How dare she?” “What kind of a mother?” “What kind of an irresponsible person?”
And as I sit at my laptop, watching it all go down, I am completely confused. “Really??? A woman’s house burns down, as she watches with her family from their car, and you are gonna attack her for sending THREE tweets out to her friends — to the community that loves, follows, and supports her, to the place where she lives her life as a writer and artist?”
I am mystified by people judging and attacking one another at the best of times. But at the worst of times? It makes me want to throw up. Seriously people, seriously???
How does it affect YOU how someone chooses to express themselves during a personal tragedy? Some may cry. Some may withdraw. Some may reach out. How can you judge that?
As for the argument — didn’t she have anything better to do in those moments as she watched her life engulfed in flames? Let me ask you, have you ever stood watching something burn?
Have you ever had unexpected tragedy rip through your world, leaving you stunned and helpless. I have. I have stood there, a bystander to my own life unraveling. And you can’t do anything.
It wasn’t like the firefighters were handing her one end of a fire house and saying, “Come on lady — get off Twitter! We need you to put out this fire!”
No. She was watching, helpless from her family’s car. And she called out three short sentences to her friends. She expressed herself in her language, in her world, in her community.
Offline people can’t understand a personal blogger’s decision to reveal themselves online. Many online people can’t understand it either.
But a personal blogger expresses and shares her life through words, photos, stories. It is her medium. It is her community. It is her healing.
We don’t all make the same decisions.
Even Susan and I, identical twins and both bloggers, discussed if we would tweet in the same situation. Susan said she might not. I said I most definitely would. I would need my friends. I would call out to them, just as if I were getting on the phone. But fortunately with Twitter, a few sentences would reach them. And I wouldn’t be as alone as I was before I hit enter.
But what I would do or not do doesn’t matter. WHY on earth would I care, let alone judge, another human for a personal decision that has NO impact on my life or hurts anyone else?
In saying this, I suppose I am casting judgement on those judging — and judging one another is the thing I despise most. But, trust me, I am not saying that I am better than anyone who criticized Monica. Goodness knows I am guilty of crap and mistakes myself.
I am just standing up and saying, “Come on people — try nice. It will make you and everyone else feel a heck of a lot better.”
And I hope the next time you make a mistake, say you don’t get rental insurance and you learn a horrible lesson from it, the people standing around watching from a distance don’t hurl the same crap people just hurled at Monica Bielanko.
Fortunately, the online haters are far fewer than the supporters. Fortunately, not all personal bloggers give up and walk away from this incredible community, scared off by a few angry people with megaphones.
Because the world is a better place with personal bloggers. We tell our stories. We tell the truth. And in doing so, we help heal ourselves and we help heal our readers.
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Written by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom.
Photo from Flickr: Monica Bielanko