WHATSAPP KILLED MY FATHER: A Message from a Child of One of Yesterday’s Drowning Victims

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wapThe following message was submitted to YWN by a family member of one of the victims in yesterday’s drowning in Miami Beach:

I was informed of my fathers death from a WhatsApp group.

I woke up in the morning and asked Siri what’s the weather today. She replies, today will be partly cloudy with a high of 60 degrees. My day starts off just like every other day and nothing seems unusual.

At work I usually keep my phone on silent so I can get things done. At approximately 11:30 am I see the other people in the office gathering around and talking quietly. Nothing unusual. At 11:45 am I give a slight glance at my phone and I see that I have 68 unread messages from 9 different WhatsApp groups. That was my first sign that something usual is happening today.

I put my thumb at the key lock and go directly to WhatsApp. At that very second my heart skipped a beat. My fingers froze. My eyes were rolling. I saw stars. All messages read ‘BDE at least three people dead in an apparent boat accident in Florida’. Every group that I am a member of had at least 10-15 messages with pictures and voice notes of how many people died, how and where with full details.

Me as a family member however, did not know of a thing that had happened. And all of a sudden, from reading a WhatsApp message, I was left without a father! A point blank Yusim!

I try calling my mother and of course no answer. I race out of the office and call my brother. And yes there is an answer. The answer I never hoped or dreamed of ever hearing!

With a foggy mind and my blood ice cold I rushed home, and funeral arrangements were underway.

But, I do want to take a few minutes to discuss the recklessness from WhatsApp groups. I feel that now might be the time that people might reconsider broadcasting and distributing news on WhatsApp.

The first messages started circling WhatsApp at approximately 11:00 o’clock am. The messages read ‘There was a fatal boat accident in Miami and three people are dead, Rosenberg, Parnes and Englander.’

Without hesitation someone decided to write a message killing 3 people right then and there. And thousands of shares were followed within seconds.

At 11:00 o’clock am, not one of them were confirmed dead! So instead of sharing messages to Daven or say Tehilim for the critically injured. Someone decided he will get more shares on social media or will be looked at as a hero on WhastApp because he was first with the news. So wrong on so many levels!

At the very first second I read the WhatsApp messages I was hoping that those three have been killed just like the two Bucherim were killed in Kerestier last week. But thankfully those reports turned out to be false!

Sadly the Miami story is true.

In the mean time someone decided to share a picture on WhatsApp of a stranded boat claiming that this is the boat the three were sailing in. And they had some kind of accident. Number one that boat was from a different and old story and number two they weren’t on a boat at all.

Right now, I have no voice. No mind. I am typing this message with tears.

This was without a doubt the hardest and worst day of my life. And the WhatsApp messages made it a lot worse and harder!

All I’m trying to say here is, when a tragedy strikes, don’t try to be a hero with sharing the news as fast as you can. Be a hero with knowing as much accurate details as you can. And NEVER assume or make something up. Because there’s always a family or families at stake.

I will never forget the first WhatsApp messages I read when I opened my phone. Make sure to never be the person who writes that message.

From this point on in life I will never be caught by surprise again. Nothing can surprise me anymore. (B.Z.)

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)



35 COMMENTS

  1. Come on, you’re letting it out on the messenger.
    We should take this opportunity to remind our children to be very cautious and respectful of all signs warning us not to go swimming in a certain area. And if the Camp Director tells you not to go swimming at certain hours, don’t think that you’re smarter.

  2. I’m skeptical that this is real. 1) who in such a situation r”l would take the time at this time to post a message?
    2) as a son someone would have had to have called him as soon as the news was known
    B”DE

  3. I think the authorities should have not released the names of the niftarim until family was informed. I got info in WhatsApp but was a link to a news website. HaSh-m took them. Not what’s app

  4. i happen to know that ywn waited until all family members were notifed. they do this every time.

    they also wrote “rip-tide” in their article which was published well before anyone else….but instead, whatsapp had these victims in boat crashes, and even had photos of the crashed boats.

    whatsapp is a dangerous place

  5. It is unfortunate and sad yes true a call to daven would have been more appropriate and people should be sensitive to others. But with today’s social media in the event of a tragedy family should notify family asap as not to find out news that may shader their life through a text or news headline. The families should see no more pain and have the strength to get through this difficult life changing time. And embrace the life and legacy that was left for them to remember.

  6. Your Father should RIP i’m very sorry for Your loss every person from when we’re born HaSHem created the world that we need both a Father and Mother to write the greatness and beauty of having both Parents is not possible. We as a Nation have a beautiful system that every thing is done by HaSHem and its all with Haseydoot and Rahmim to try to explain this incident is not my place nor do i possess any means just words that i hope will help comfort those in need BE”H. When i lost my Mother the only thing that kept me going straight was knowing it’s all from HaSHem and all has a reason please HaSHem help us see the beauty and greatness in every thing BE”H

  7. I Feel terrible about the event…. and even more so
    how this person found out about the untimely demise of
    his father….

    Just (2) quick points…
    I was surprised that the writer did not say that he will no longer be part of WHATSAPP… was I the only one THAT THOUGHT SO….
    He was so devastated by whatsapp….but all he can think about is telling others what to do…..forgetting the old age adage that the only thing one can do is change themselves….

    Point # 2…. who writes these headlines?….
    WHATSAPP KILLED HIS FATHER??????

  8. Welcome to the terrible world of technology. This happens in Israel all the time. Technology is the yetzer hara. This is the opposite of Tzinius.
    Hopefully a wakeup call for Jews to remember we are not the Goyim and be aware and DON’T GET RIPPED AWAY FROM YIDDESHKEIT FROM THE STRONG TIDE OF THE WORLD!

  9. I am so sorry for this tragedy. and the letter written by the victim’s child was poignant and altogether too true and extremely perceptive with regard to how people jump on premature and false news reports and have some primeval need to be THE ONE to spread it. In big tragic events – we know this more so in the contexts of war, terror, and natural disasters – news reports are known to be generally inaccurate and not to be believed for the first day or two after the event! Track any such event for first reports, and then correction after correction! This was miserable ting for this child to be exposed to. And I use Whatsapp, but to a limited and discreet extent. NO groups, other than one for immediate family, with a tough control. I believe the article, but I also believe the travesty here was a foolish and sensationalized headline designed to draw in the readers. How insensitive and worthy of a public apology! Made to try and give the impression the letter-writer is saying Whatsapp killed anyone! It was CLEARLY NOT a headline composed by the letter-writer. Shame and double shame on the headline writer!

  10. I do not believe this letter was actually written by an actual son of one of the niftarim, but I would ask instead why are you subscribed to Whatsapp in the first place, if not for the gossip? WHat you’re saying is that you like Whatsapp until YOU’RE the one whose being gossiped about.

    My suggestion: Look at yourself as to why you got involved with these Whatsapp gossip groups in the first place.

  11. Im sorry for your loss, On 9 whatsapp groups??? WOW . Perfect time for you to unite all your whatsapp friends to stop gossiping and from talking loshon hora….. May your father be a mailtz yosher …..

    BTW I doubt the authenticity of this letter

  12. I really feel bad for the author of this letter and the family should have nechama. But the title is misleading and people tend to confuse things. The fact that people are irresponsible in sending messages on WhatsApp does NOT make WhatsApp a “bad” thing. A lot of people are irresponsible driving cars (and really kill other people) but nobody would say cars are a “bad” thing.

  13. To all of you that asked why the brother didn’t call him/her:

    When a tragedy like this happens brothers & Sisters are in such total shock themselves the last thing they are able to do is notify another sibling. Now probably someone close to the family was making they’re way around VISITING each child at home or work but the WhatsApp mania beat them to it. This is a terrible problem and similar story just happened in Israel. We’re not trying to change anybody. When tragedy happens DONT FORWARD ANY MESSAGES PLEASE BE THE ONE TO BREAK THE CHAIN!!!!!

  14. And here we are chatting through a different social media, no different then what’s app, Twitter, telegram, Facebook,snapchat,my space, Google and the list goes on. You comments here or there can hurt the same.

  15. Boruch Dayan Ha-emes.
    I am very sorry that the death of this person’s father needed to be revealed in this way. That is extremely painful and I hope that this child will find peacefulness and never experience anything like that again.

    p.s.
    I don’t have whatsApp and have no plans on bringing it into my life. I am mocked for it but I am proud of my choice. My next goal is to delete my fb account – I look at my account approx. once a month, probably less. Last time I opened Linked-In was about 3 weeks before Pesach. I am visiting some real sites lately such as the Bais Medrash and starting to take a real interest in the physical seforim – Holy Books that adorn my living room.

  16. There are 3 lessons here:
    1. NEVER go swimming when the posted signs clearly tell you that it’s dangerous. People think that signs, laws, red lights, etc. don’t apply to them.

    2. The Rabbonim have clearly “assered” the use of WhatsApp. Listen to your Rabbonim on these matters.

    3. Don’t point fingers at others during a tragedy.

  17. Get rid of Whatapp. Very simple. It’s a tool that causes more pain and destruction than is virtuous, positive and good. Shalom Bayis issues galore, loshon hara, motzie shem rah, rechilus, tznius issues and more.
    Dissemination of Torah? Negligible
    Positive speech or communication? No more than a text or group text.

  18. You mean what’s app killed you not your father… Let Hashem give you a lot of strength and give you life again together with all broken hearts .

  19. By the way it’s written, it seems like it was written by a girl not a boy…so if anything i’d say we are talking about a daughter of one of the niftarim…..

    BD”E, there’s nothing else to say. may the Niftarim rest in peace.. We all know that it’s the time of Sfira now and beaches are a dangerous place to be in.
    May Hashem hear your tefilos and give you Nechama and Harvacha bimhera..

    Amen.

    Meir

  20. It’s hard enough to hear about a tradgedy when your family tells you, it’s horrible to hear thru the news, texts, and pple you don’t know. boruch dayan haemes.

  21. What’s app is a great tool. It is used for many wonderful things and enables people to do much chesed and m any mitzvos that they would otherwise be unable to do. I am sure that there are many more what’s app messages requesting the saying of tehilum then messages claiming that people died prematurely. Every tool can also be misused but it is not the car that is responsible when someone is driving drunk and It would be foolish to ban driving because there are some drink drivers in this world.

  22. Whether or not this letter is authentic is besides the point. The title is a bit misleading and overly dramatic, but the point the writer is making at the end is still clear.
    Don’t be the bearer of bad news! Its a Torah idea that people very often brush off because they feel it’s important to share news with others, or better yet, be the first one to have known it, or said it, because they feel it gives them Chashivus.
    What the writer says is true. He/She will never forget the message, or the person who sent it. (Whether it was sent through Whatsap or a text, or through facebook.) Anyone who’s involved in grief counseling will tell you that the initial shock is what stays with the person forever. Run Run Run AWAY from being the person to share bad news!

  23. TESHUVA is the ONLY solution to stop the tzaros in klal yisroel. YOU decide together as a nation WHEN you’re ready. Until then there’s no one to blame or to be surprised at but OURSELVES (myself included)

    may their neshamos have an aliya

    may their families have a nechama

  24. Just would like to add, whatsApp is a real ‘KILLER’. Takes all surprises away.. FOR EXAMPLE: This past Purim after working countless hours on our Purim Costumes we stopped at our cousins house before heading to NY. They took a picture of us. No sooner did we leave their house and I begin to get text’s from my family in Brooklyn how amazing our costumes are! and I thought ‘what are they talking about? Our costumes? Where did they see me?’ and then BOOM! I found out they had posted it on whatsApp! What a surprise KILLER. I got over it but next Purim, I have a new policy. No whatsApp posting allowed.

  25. CONFIRMED
    This article was NOT written by any family member. I myself was just at the house of the nifter a”h, and as a close family friend the discussion about this very article came up. The first time they heard about or saw this article was on MY phone…

    I wouldn’t say that the issues mentioned are not true, but the article author is part of the problem. Especially while hiding under the name of a grieving person.

  26. yarok- You were by one of the houses. This article doesn’t say which one is his/her father. I cannot say for sure whether or not it is true, but don’t be so sure that it isn’t.