Let’s get it out of the way.
We all suck.
At least, we all have moments when we make mistakes. Major ones. Minor ones. Funny ones. Stupid ones. Some of us, unfortunately, will make mistakes that will lead to pain and death. And some of us have our mistakes blasted all over the world so everyone can weigh in on them.
Welcome to the Internet.
Or as I like to call it: Cheers Hell.
The place everybody might know your name.
Of course, this place is nothing like the real Cheers. Sam doesn’t know your name because you’re his favorite customer. He only knows it after you royally mess up and are plastered all over the walls.
It’s rare that someone becomes famous on the internet for a kind act. A noble act. Something they did that was friendly or caring or generous. Nah. We don’t really care about those people. Us Internet folk, we like to single out the people who make mistakes. We love to pull them out of the woodwork because, well — we love to publically shame people.
Take for example the most recent case of a mother who lost sight of her 4-year-old son (was it for five seconds? Five minutes? We don’t know. But of course, those facts don’t seem to matter.) only to find him trapped under a 450-pound gorilla named Harambe. Her little boy escaped her sight and the result was a beautiful and majestic creature losing its life. It was tragic. It really was. But do we have to crucify her for it?
Over the last 48 hours, I’ve read posts from people who have called her a b%#@, a terrible mother, an awful human, and one user who said she did it just to collect a paycheck.
Hold the phone. You really think a mother would endanger her child to…sue a zoo? Is this really where we’re at as a society? Do we have such little faith in humanity that our first assumption is ‘she must have risked her child’s life and had an innocent animal killed for some money’?
People, aren’t we better than this? I’m sure this woman has had (and will continue) to have sleepless nights because of what happened. I’m sure the hell in her own mind is greater than anything we could throw her way. Must we add to the fires?
Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition to get the police to investigate these parents for negligence. This isn’t a game. This is real life. These are kids who could be taken away from their parents — thrown into a system that they may never escape from — because their mom made a mistake.
Her mistake wasn’t leaving them alone so she could go to the crackhouse.
Her mistake wasn’t taking them with her while she worked the corner for money.
Her mistake wasn’t beating them because they didn’t put the groceries away.
She lost sight of her son for a few moments. Did it end terribly? Absolutely. Has it happened to everyone who has had a kid? Absolutely. If you really believe you haven’t lost sight of your kid for a split second, you’re probably just not aware enough to notice — that you didn’t notice where they were.
I’ll admit it. I have posted on way too many message boards and Facebook walls with opinions I should have kept to myself. I have weighed in on subjects before I had the facts. I have used my wit to harm instead of to heal. And I’m embarrassed by it. I’m embarrassed because I feel like I’ve contributed to the muck that is the Internet.
I was never a fan of all of the food pictures and cheesy quotes that used to rule social media — but if that’ll get everyone off of their moral high horses and back onto a level playing field — here’s a picture of some pancakes.
Let’s go back to those days.
Seriously, if you really think you’re such a good parent (or will be. Many of the people weighing in don’t have kids.) that you would never ever, ever, in a million years lose your kid for half a second — good for you. Keep that blissful ideology for as long as you can.
When you can’t produce any more hot air to keep that balloon of bliss high in the sky, and then you float back down to earth with the rest of us, we’ll do our best to welcome you with open arms.
At least I will. Because I’ve been you.
Sometimes, I am you.
And maybe, if and when I make a mistake, and if that mistake gets blasted all over the world wide web, you’ll do the same for me. While everyone else is throwing fireballs at each other, we can go back to posting those weird cat pictures with funny hats.
Besides, I’m tired of the shame game.