Emma Keller is a Guardian columnist and wife of former New York Times editor Bill Keller. Today, she tackles the topic: is this woman who is dying of cancer tweeting too much?
The woman in question is Lisa Adams, who has stage 4 breast cancer, and who chronicles her daily travails in great detail on Twitter. "She has tweeted over 100,000 times about her health," Keller writes. But Emma Keller has quite a few rhetorical questions about this person that she chooses to follow on Twitter!
Should there be boundaries in this kind of experience? Is there such a thing as TMI? Are her tweets a grim equivalent of deathbed selfies, one step further than funeral selfies? Why am I so obsessed? ...
Are those of us who've been drawn into her story going to remember a dying woman's courage, or are we hooked on a narrative where the stakes are the highest?
Will our memories be the ones she wants? What is the appeal of watching someone trying to stay alive? Is this the new way of death? You can put a "no visitors sign" on the door of your hospital room, but you welcome the world into your orbit and describe every last Fentanyl patch. Would we, the readers, be more dignified if we turned away? Or is this part of the human experience?
This jumble of poorly edited soul searching was condensed, in a most unfortunate way, into the headline and deck, "Forget funeral selfies. What are the ethics of tweeting a terminal illness? Lisa Adams is dying of breast cancer. She has tweeted over 100,000 times about her journey. Is this educational or too much?"
People would probably not be quite so mad if that had all been phrased a little differently. It really makes you wonder: [I type ten fretful rhetorical questions here].
Some other people on Twitter disliked Emma Keller's column. What else is new?