Is Scott Simon violating some societal taboo?

I wouldn’t do it, but I don’t begrudge him his choice. Everyone deals with death in his or her own way. I hope he doesn’t regret this. It begs the question, is it best to wait to write about grief, or is the moment the truest time?

If You Have Five Seconds to Spare

Perhaps you’ve heard of NPR’s Scott Simon this week—he’s getting a lot of attention for tweeting his thoughts and observations as he sits at his mother’s deathbed.

As with any public figure’s actions, Simon is getting both praise and criticism. I read through the negative comments posted to the Los Angeles Times article—here’s a sample:

  • “That is just creepy”
  • “Ratings must have been down”
  • “This guy needs to seek mental help”
  • “Can’t even someone’s dying days be afforded some dignity?”
  • “Ghoulish. Disrespectful. Selfish.”
  • “Rather he used his Mother to garner favor and a story as well as pity.”

But what Simon is doing is not new—only the vehicle for expressing his thoughts is new. Books and essays, thousands of times over, have been written about a loved one’s death, and I hear little similar criticism leveled against that type of writing. So apparently the thing that is making people…

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2 thoughts on “Is Scott Simon violating some societal taboo?

  1. It was a beautiful, near transcendent experience. Simon is a journalist and a writer who was expressing his emotions the best way he knows how – in words. It was a powerful example of ways social media can be used to bring people together, to share common experiences, to receive feedback in a situation that is all too often experienced in isolation and solitude, emotionally speaking if not literally.

    I would love to read the FB pages and Twitter feeds of those this narrative upset. Given that they consider a life’s passage we all must face “oversharing” and “ghoulish,” surely they are the very models of social media decorum.

    • My impression was he was very “in the now” with his mother’s passing. The tweeting was part of that reality, that presence. I don’t think the average Joe could have pulled this off with grace, but he is not average and he did it well. Most agreed.

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