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Tweets and Blogs and TMI and Controversy

Posted 1/14/2014

Posted in

  Many of you likely are already aware of the fire storm flaring around Lisa Bonchek Adams and her current situation and writing. For seven years, she has written about her life with cancer, now metastatic and seemingly quite serious. I have surely quoted her before in this blog and spoken about her wonderful writing with some of you. She is currently hospitalized at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York (and there are varying reports re the severity of her condition) and sharing the experience with the world by very frequent Tweets and some blogs.

  It has been horrifying to read some of the criticism coming her way. Clearly different people make different choices about privacy and sharing and use of social networking. Whatever your views, it seems very wrong to be judgmental of someone else's choices--and most especially when she is clearly suffering.

  Rather than poorly presenting the whole mess, here is the beginning and then a link to an excellent article from The Atlantic. There are other links in the text to take you to the articles that set off the storm.

Ken Jennings—yes, that Ken Jennings—put it best. "Terrified I might get cancer," he tweeted this morning, "because what if Bill and Emma Keller yell at me."

He was referring to a pair of opinion pieces—Bill's, in The New York Times, and Emma's, in the Guardian—that assess the ethical dimensions of talking about cancer. Both Kellers tell the story of a woman named Lisa Bonchek Adams, who has stage 4 breast cancer and has been tweeting and blogging her experience. (Bill learned about her from Emma; they're married.) Both Kellers are concerned about Adams—but also, and sometimes seemingly more so, about her tweets. Bill frets about Adams's "decision to live her cancer onstage," Emma about her own "voyeurism" toward Adams's cancer tweets. Both do so in a way that is fairly patronizing both to Adams and to her cancer. Call it cansplaining.


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