Saturday, November 12, 2011

On the great value of Twitter

(NEWSER) – A Texas teen tweeted 144 times in six hours about being molested by a family member and being forced into prostitution. Then 18-year-old Ashley Billasano killed herself—after announcing to some 500 Twitter followers she was going to do just that, reports theHouston Chronicle. No one sought help for her, reports Fox News Houston.


  1. So sad, but all too common as we are overloaded with information and ignore cries for help xx

  2. Perhaps instead of tweeting about these very serious sorts of things people should go back to the old-fashioned method of talking to one another in person and not via an electronic media!

  3. She apparently tried the cops too. When a woman in SA tweeted about killing herself many people rushed to her neighbourhood trying to find her. Apparently she was having a big all laugh at their expense. While social media is great in some respect, there are too many people out there who just want attention so it's hard to sift out the rubbish from the good. I think most of us would rather not be gullible. In all honesty, if you truly need help, you should try get it from someone real rather than a bunch of online profile. It is sad that not ONE of those who follow her tried to reach out to her, a testament that she was being followed by assholes in the first place. Ultimately, she is responsible for her own death.

  4. @Adullamite - Anyone would like living in London. What's your point? Ah. I see. Cold town too. :(

    @Sage - Agreed. I must say it still surprises me every time I read something like this, though.

    @Linda - Or call 911. There are nice ladies there who would try to help. :)

    @Patchwork - Exactly. Twitter is not the place to cry for help when you REALLY need it.

  5. It's a non-sequitur.

    The outcome doesn't have any implication for twitter. It's like saying 'Look, this bulldozer doesn't even peel potatoes!'.

    Twitter is more akin to writing messages on bits of paper and casting them into the wind.

    A pointless activity. Like so many others. They're all more noise in an already overloaded world. If we handle more information, then we must do so by allowing each piece less of our attention.

    If this girl really wanted help, she could have spoken to the police, to her doctor, she could have sought help at specific places.

    Instead, she twittered messages to a world that's not really listening. 500 'followers'. What does that mean? I don't know 500 people.
    Let us imagine, for a moment that I, as a person who blogs, was going through a similar suicidal ideation, and posted about it.
    What could any blog-reader do?
    Of all the people who read my blog (not, usually, as many as 500), theres only one, so far as I know, who knows my real name, address, phone number...
    And she's three and a half thousnd miles away.So I'd be pretty stupid if my cry for help was on the blogger platform.


  6. Calling a hot line would have been better, no doubt, but we're confusing the perception of something with the actual something. If the girl believed/perceived twitter as her window to the world, as proof that someone was listening, it didn't matter that there were other more effective ways she could have called for help. She was a teenager and sometimes they tend toward tunnel vision.

    The lack of response in a place where she clearly expected it could very well have magnified in her own mind, increasing in importance beyond the original crisis. I'm alone. No one cares.

    One can break free from that thinking, but it's not necessarily easy.

  7. I agree with Stephanie. Yes twitter wasn't the right forum for help, but she might have just wanted to reach out to see if anyone even cared. The fact that no-one reached out to her, would have made the feelings she was already feeling worse.

    Really quite sad, but not twitters fault.

    There's a good chance she wasn't really looking for help anyway.

  8. @Soubriquet - It is not. 500 friends is nothing. I have been befriended on twitter by many youthful entrepreneurs in the Philippines who have up to 5000 friends. Obviously, if this girl had had more Twitter followers, the odds of one of them taking action would have been increased. As to having her phone number or suicide address, it would have been a simple matter for the Twitter follower to contact interpol and have them subpoena Twitter's records to look up the match for her Twitter name to her real name and phone number. It is a well-known fact that phone numbers on Twitter applications are seldom fake. I hope you will reconsider. And I hope you will seek more followers and readers. Perhaps if you wrote about interesting topics. :) And put your phone number in the sidebar.

    On a serious note... (I find that there are cries for help and there are people who quietly end it all. The dynamics of this case are too complex for me to fathom.

    I don't let Twitter off the hook as easily as you do. I think the very premise of Twitter and their income model is to imply if you join Twitter you will be cool and have real people following you and caring about you - even if you don't have any friends in the real world. Twitter is nothing but a climate-controlled room full of servers and should have a disclaimer to that effect on their application.

    @Stephanie Barr - To an adult, the solution to her problem was to get out. Leave the situation. Call a hotline first. Tell her school counselor. But, as you say, teens think in mysterious ways.

    @Caroline - You cannot rationally expect a response from me when you start your comment with something like, "I agree with Stephanie."

  9. Corrections: The wonderful blog "gears in the grit" is perhaps the most interesting and thought provoking bloke ever conceived.

  10. @ Max, since when did I "rationally" ever expect a response from you? Yet, I got one, even it was a response that claimed to not be a response.



Related Posts with Thumbnails