[ View the story "Social media and death" on Storify] Social media and death
AJAMStream· Wed, Jan 22 2014 12:46:05
Death in general is a
among Americans. Only 30% of Americans have the conversation, but 90% think it's important to discuss.
End-of-life treatment is also a difficult topic for Americans to approach. Public opinion on end-of-life treatment has
from the majority over the past 20 years. While 66% of Americans still believe that doctors should sometimes allow a patient to die, a growing minority believe that doctors should do everything possible to save a patient's life.
Patients with terminal illnesses are using social media as a means of documenting the last days, months and years of their lives. Photographer Angelo Merendino documented his wife's fight with breast cancer in a photo essay entitled "
The Battle We Didn't Choose
Lisa Bonchek Adams hosts a
discussing her experiences with cancer.
Yes, you really can teach, share, listen, laugh, grow, love, mourn, cry, communicate, and change the world 140 characters at a time.Lisa Bonchek Adams
Her blog has drawn national attention and received both
. Following the publication of a
about her struggles which has since been taken down, Adams
in a series of tweets, including the following:
.@emmagkeller many inaccuracies. I'm quite perplexed and concerned. Misses everything I'm trying to do. Stunned. Saddened.Lisa Bonchek Adams
#IStandWithLisa for teaching the world "palliative care" means more than just pain medications #bcsmShelby Terstriep
NPR host Scott Simon
as he live-tweeted his mother's death.
Mother groans w/ pleasure--over flossing. "When they mention great little things in life, they usually forget flossing."Scott Simon
Hard to book mother's memorial. Have to coordinate schedules of a priest, chef, composer, & rabbi. But a great joke!Scott Simon
It's easy to forget: cancer stomps on your confidence. Part of healing is regaining and sometimes redefining your best self. #bcsmJody Schoger
Using the hashtag, Schoger
the conversation on a weekly basis.
Q1. Suffering is part of life..... but how do we help our friends, and ourselves, when difficulties strike? #bcsmJody Schoger
Loved ones also use social media to
the passage of their family members or friends.
, a lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, gave a lecture that is still widely shared today.
Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood DreamsCarnegieMellonU
The Stream community contributed their thoughts when asked if talking about death on social media was appropriate.
@AJAMStream well there are novels about it, so why not? It's their choice if they want to share it. Just like it's ours to read it or notJessica Peetermans
sure .its a conversation builder that may open up dialogue that conceeds to education about illnesses.Dar'shay Holdenheavymedal
YES and we also need not be afraid of dying talking about also helps others cope with the same. .. its called compassionShawn Garza
Some believe that social media provides an outlet to a community of empathetic followers.
entirely approp. can help others & lets that person still feel connected & useful.Elizabeth Halloway
@AJAMStream there is a lot of empathy here and one can easily disregard apathy.Oregano&Olive Oil
Some in the community acknowledged the difficulties Americans face in talking about death.
Death is part of life. It is only in our modern era that we avoid acknowledgement of it. People should feel free to discuss their experience if they like...Heather Madison
Appropriate or not, if it's happening it's happening. Death is a reality that faces us all, even when our heads are buried in our devices.facebook.com
Others were skeptical, saying social media could not replace face-to-face interactions.
@AJAMStream Seriously? A face to face encounter with the a terminally illl loved one would be more compassionate than a "like" on Facebook.WmSan
@AJAMStream I would say it depends on the person, but at some point, a person who is dying is going to need personal interaction.Lilith
Some shared personal stories.
Betty Sherlin Schueler
said that she blogs about her experiences with terminal cancer on Facebook.
I have metastatic cancer, to the extremities, and by all rights should have died years ago. However, thanks to modern medicine, and alternate healing techniques, I have survived over 20 years. It hasn't been easy and I share my journey with friends on Facebook. I am sure there are many Facebook friends, who skip my posts because serious illness isn't a problem in their lives, but there are many others already sharing my path or are about to embark on it.america.aljazeera.com