Twitter is all a’twitter. The blogosphere is buzzing. It seems that nearly everyone online this weekend is upset over Nic White’s (@mybottlesup) allegations that TSA agents took her son during an airport screening, a response from Eye On Annapolis, the TSA blog, or both.
Readers feel let down. Bloggers feel betrayed. There’s more than a little uncertainty — how do we stop ourselves before we RT (retweet), spread information on our own blogs, and the like? Maggie, Dammit reminds us all of a simple fact: Check sources, and verify before reposting or retweeting. Many of us have pledged to be cautious, to wait, to see how things shake out before we jump.
Those are all good things.
But remember, although we have incredible power to make mistakes online, we also have incredible power to make a difference. Remember when 350 bloggers reposted a blog post about inflammatory breast cancer, calling themselves Team Whymommy? Remember the bloggers that surrounded Heather Spohr with love, forming Friends of Maddie? The support that bloggers have sent to Annissa, along with Hope for Peyton? The goodness of the people who visit the Mothers With Cancer and offer encouraging words through tough times? The love that has been extended to so, so many bloggers in times of sadness, grief, illness, loneliness, desperation and fear? BlogHers Act, and BlogHers Act Canada?
These things made a difference. These posts, these reposts, these tweets, and these donations of time and/or money made a difference in the lives of these families and so many more beyond them. The blogosphere is full of good-hearted, well-intentioned writers who genuinely want to help and support each other.
As this story breaks in the mainstream media, I hope that they also hear about all the good that is being done online, and how bloggers pull together to support each other in times of crisis.
When we see a mother in need, we lend a hand. When we see a child in trouble, we take action. We trust, and we don’t always take the time (or know how to) verify. We go with our instincts, and we rely on our fellow mothers/writers to be as honest with us as we have been with them. And when reality turns out to match what we’ve been told, we mill around a bit, not knowing exactly how to act at this party.
For me, I’ve decided to just keep writing, trusting my fellow bloggers who I have built relationships with, reaching out to newer ones, and verifying where I can. Working with known organizations. Joining causes bigger than me.
That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve joined the American Cancer Society’s Blogger Advisory Council, working towards more birthdays by writing about cancer survivors that inspire us, and encouraging others to do the same. I encourage you to join me in this effort, by writing your own post like Julie Pippert, TechSavvyMama, Darryle P, Catherine Morgan, Morra Aarons-Mele, and many other bloggers did, telling your truth, and tagging your friends, or by sharing the information that I’ve posted about inflammatory breast cancer, information that many have never heard and that could save a life.
Lives are being changed because we are speaking out. They are. Julie had to remind me of that this week, but I’m forever grateful for the reminder — which Morra then shared in The Huffington Post. It couldn’t have come at a better time, in the wake of the alleged balloon boy hoax and these TSA accusations, stories that make me cringe and wait for it to all blow over. But we can’t wait. We can’t be silent. 10,000 people will get inflammatory breast cancer each year. Most will have absolutely no idea what’s happening to them, and neither will their doctors. But by us speaking out, we’re getting the word out, and people are getting treatment. 300 women will be diagnosed with IBC today, and they will have a chance at beating this terrible disease and spending more of their lives loving their families, supporting their friends, contributing at work. We must keep speaking out, and supporting our friends in need.
Lives are being changed.