The Tragedy Bell Curve: The Internet Response To Tragedy


As I watched Monica Bielanko‘s family cope with their house burning down, I was once again struck by the incredible compassion and generosity of the internet as many people rallied around the family, making contributions to the fundraiser, and generally spreading the word and offering love and support. The internet can be an amazing place, and in less than a day, over $10,000 was raised to support the family (and fundraising is now closed).

But, as is typical, the negativity also happened.

I’ve been blogging for eight years, and I’ve seen this pattern again and again and again. The only thing that has changed over the years is the speed at which it occurs, thanks to real time internet via Twitter and Facebook. It used to take a week or more for the bad to follow the good, but now it usually happens in a day.

I’ve seen the standard “why did she tweet during the fire?” mentions, and the general grumbles about people being money-grubbing, and of course the hate sites leaping into the fray, relishing the family’s tragedy and taking the opportunity to bash the family about everything from the choices they’ve made, where they live, how they look, and, naturally, the usual “all mom bloggers are narcissistic exploiters of their children for profit and how dare she share this terrible personal tragedy publicly!

I’m saddened to see this happen once again to this poor family, already battered by real life experience. I know that talking about it here only calls attention to it, but I think that it’s important to remember that even though the negative people out there the haters and the doubters are only a tiny percentage of our amazing online community, that negativity still rankles like a sore tooth. Those of us that have chosen to live our lives online have found different ways to cope. But I know for me that on a bad day, one comment calling me a “horrid bitch” or finding Twitter streams dedicated to thrashing my appearance can shake me to my core no matter how much work I do to “not take it personally” and not let those people rent space in my head.

It’s the ugly underbelly of the mom blogging community, and I wish it would stop. I wish that if folks didn’t like a blogger, or didn’t approve of what they do, they could just turn away. It seems like that would be so much easier, right?

Here’s a (badly done) graphic I made about the Tragedy Bell Curve. Enjoy.


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