Last year, when a picture taken by a stranger of Molly Lensing and her child was posted online and went viral, she kept silent. This week, the mom broke her silence, speaking out against the shaming in an interview with Today.
After her picture was taken without her permission in an airport in Colorado in 2016, the photographer shared the photo online. It shows Lensing sitting and looking at her phone while her small baby appears to be sleeping or playing on a blanket on the floor.
It quickly went viral, and Lensing endured relentless shaming for “ignoring her child” while looking at her phone. One particularly hateful post from just last month included an Albert Einstein quote attached.
“I fear the day that technology will take on our humanity ... the world will be populated by a generation of idiots," it read. It has since been shared 65,641 times.
You know, typical internet troll type stuff.
In her interview with Today, Lensing set the record straight on exactly what was going on in the photo. The picture was taken during 20 hours she and her then-2-month-old spent in the airport together during the Delta computer outage that resulted in over 1,000 cancelled flights and cost the company an estimated $150 million.
“Anastasia had been held or in her carrier for many hours,” Lensing revealed. “My arms were tired. She needed to stretch. And I had to communicate with all the family members wondering where the heck we were."
All of this makes complete and total sense and is no less than any other mom would've done herself. Unfortunately for Lensing, her private moment was caught and misinterpreted by a bunch of strangers who had no knowledge of the situation.
After her privacy was violated by this stranger, her picture didn’t just go viral, her name was also released which resulted in her receiving private messages from strangers, calling her out for what they saw as bad parenting. Lensing shared that the picture caused her a lot of anxiety as she works with infants on the labor and delivery floor of a hospital and was worried her boss would see the photo and jump to the same conclusions like all of the judgy people of the world wide web were doing.
This shouldn’t be normal. This could be any of us.
As much as I hate to admit it, mom-shaming is commonplace. We’ve all grown so used to seeing women being berated online for how they raise their kids that we’re not the least bit surprised when another viral photo pops up in our feed.
This shouldn’t be normal. This could be any of us. Heck, when my son was 6 months old, I'm fairly certain I did the exact same thing in the Washington D.C. airport. Except, I wasn’t checking in with family and friends, I was probably playing a game of "Bejeweled" and eating a snack because I needed a break.
So sue me.
Sadly, I’m not surprised at how ugly the internet can get or that Lensing had to take the time to make a public statement to get the trolls off her back. What I can’t get over is that we live in world where it's so easy to have your privacy so grossly violated. Where do people get the idea that it is ever OK to take a picture of a minor and share it online without their parents' permission? Much less, posting it with inflammatory content in hopes of it going viral? It’s disgusting.
If, like me, you’re feeling like there isn’t a lot of good in the world, take heart. There is good news. Lensing’s picture was certainly met with a whole lot of shaming, but it was also met with a ton of support from complete strangers, according to her interview.
And, if you’re among the mom-shaming, name-calling, harassing trolls of the internet, shame on you. No one deserves to have their parenting decisions scrutinized by tens of thousands of strangers, so find a new hobby. Seriously.