Hi - posting early. Have a great vacay if I don't "see" you in the meantime. Question: last weekend, hubby and I retreated from a lightening storm into the car while camping. We had great cell reception on ipad, so we watched the first episode of "Orange is the New Black." (Was an order-of-magnitude above my raciness/grittiness comfort level, btw.) ANYWHO, my question - we later said that we had been "watching TV," while camping. But are we just old - what is the term - "watched TV," "watched a video" (seems so 80's), "streamed some content," what?
Stick with me while I relate an anecdote that will seem a bit meandering: A few years ago, the 1980s children's series The Baby-Sitters Club was released with some updates. When I interviewed the author, Ann M. Martin, about them, I asked for an example. She said that, for example, an early edition had one character listening to her Walkman, but of course nobody listens to a Walkman anymore. "So did you change it to iPod?" I asked. Nope, she said -- because in 10 years, nobody will be listening to iPods, either. The sentence was changed to something generic like "listened to music."
Anyway. I think the solution for now is to follow Ann M. Martin's advice. Describe what you watched not, how you watched it. So you can just say, "we watched a movie." Voila.
(Isn't Orange is the New Black so good?)
I really liked your article. I think I could make an argument for all of your responses, but what made his decision fine with me (as if anyone cares) is that his mom seemed on board with his tweets and even liked them. Otherwise, I would have worried about her privacy. And, it made me call my parents.
I think it made a lot of people call their parents. I suppose the true test is whether we can all remember to call our parents more frequently than when we're being reminded of their imminent demise.
I need to file a tiny complaint. Listing the answers A/B/C bugs me because throughout the chat people will say "I agree with B and a little C", and then I'm constantly scrolling back up to see what B and C were! I think it would be better to just offer the questions and let people send in their own responses.
I take your point -- but in the past when I've left questions open-ended, i.e. "What do you think about this?" I've noticed that the responses are far fewer and far less detailed. Sometimes people need a prompt -- or several. They might think they had nothing to contribute, but then read some options and realize, "Hey, I completely disagree with that and here's why," or "I feel that way a little bit, but also feel this way."
But, a reminder to all respondents: it's most helpful if you don't reference the letters in your response, but rather just explain how you feel about a certain question.
I appreciated his tweeting for all the reasons you listed, plus two: 1, We lost my grandfather last year and I could definitely see how having the outlet of twitter for expressing yourself and receiving support would have been lovely, even on the large scale of Simon's twitter followers. The ICU is a lonely place for a healthy person, and everyone needs a break. 2, I just had a son a few months ago. Imagining him having the same thoughts/feelings/etc about me when I pass makes me want to be a better mom. Is that weird? The way Simon talked about the lessons he got from his mom and the way he cherished their relationship was really inspiring.
I don't think it's weird. Eulogies at funerals regularly make people evaluate their own lives ("What are people going to say when I die?") and that's what this was, basically. A form of a eulogy.
People still dial the operator and probably will until after you and I are both dead (possibly not until our Cupcake is dead, though).
Apropos: I learned the word for this yesterday, when we keep using the terminology for a technology despite the fact that we no longer use the technology. Linguists call them "anachronyms." Which is obviously a wonderful word.
Please change my simple A answer to this.
Thank you. Multiple-choice or T/F answer choices are why I can't take polls or quizzes because the answer is always "it depends."
Did you write this in the margins of your SAT exam? I hope so.
I said Hello for you when I was back in Illinois last week at my godmother's funeral. Scott Simon's tweets came at a particularly good time for me. (I knew I was back in the midwest when the church ladies' luncheon green beans included bacon.)
Even as a vegetarian who never, ever misses bacon, I can affirm that the green bean/bacon combination is especially delicious. I hope there was also a comforting cream-based soup casserole waiting for you.
I found his tweets very moving. I have been on the waiting end of a long ICU illness, and I assure you there is a lot of just waiting around, I am sure he was still able to be there for his mother. I'm going to see my mom next weekend and I'm going to hug her extra hard, because I'm lucky that I still can. And dammit, I'm starting to tear up again.
Yes, he did mention that in an interview that ran with him somewhere yesterday -- that being in the hospital can result in bouts of activity and panic, and then prolonged stretched of just waiting around.
What are your thoughts on the MIT studies of implanted memories? I believe this could be useful for orphans so they could be implanted with memories of happy childhoods. What do you think?
I think someone read my book. Did you read my book? Do I have a fan?!
Q1: Mostly A. Q2: A, mostly B, definitely C, a bit of D. I'm not a public personality and I'm not that eloquent (i.e. I would probably not tweet about a parent's death), but when my own father was very ill and when he passed away - way back in 2006, I definitely used email in a much broader way to communicate with many people. My dad was very well known in our community, so there were quite a few people outside of family who were concerned with his well-being (or lack thereof). Scott Simon is someone that many of us invite into our homes and lives, and we feel we know him, so this did not seem inappropriate. And - really - the American culture does not do a good job with death, dying and grieving. Talking about it a bit more can only help.
The point that he is already a personal fixture in some people's lives -- that he's already bared his soul -- is an interesting one, and I wonder if it makes it more acceptable to people that he would be so open in this instance.
Where to start? I guess by answering your questions. What do you think of them? A) I appreciated them. If you liked them, please explain why: E) All of the above I've lost both my parents within the past five years. Both were sick; both were old (78). My dad went first, and was in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities for a couple of years before ending up in the ICU and passing away in the hospital. My mother died at home, after being in hospice care for months. There was a lot of waiting. As mentioned, the time passes with great tedium punctuated by almost violent bursts of activity/fear/pain/love/loss. Lying in bed next to my mother as she slept (always fitfully), I can remember counting the seconds between breaths. Was that her last breath? No, is this one? Wondering why I was there in bed instead of my father, she would ask where he was. Holding her hand, I would lie, saying he was away on TDY, and she would fall back asleep. One has a lot of time to reflect on the past and wonder about (and fear) the future without this parent. Scott Simon communicated that beautifully. I understood EXACTLY what he was doing and what he was saying. Thank you.
Something I've found interesting is that Simon's Tweets seem to be a scenario in which age matters far more than personality. To a letter, all of the people I've talked with who appreciated them were in their 40s or older, who had personally experienced the death of a parent. I think the Tweets resonated slightly less with younger readers, who didn't yet have that personal experience.
I liked the tweets. I liked that he was speaking frankly and honestly about death and that each tweet was a super sweet (but not saccharine) tribute to his mother. Not to be gross, but in my experience, there is a LOT of sitting around while someone is actively dying. I don't think that he wasn't present for his mom, in fact, it was probably nice to be able to pull out his phone for a second and tweet a thought rather than just sit, Sit, SIT at her bedside. Death can be wretched and even the most loving relative might need a tiny reprieve while sitting bedside.
B -- didn't like, for the following reasons: A) They seemed like oversharing, C) cliche or saccharine and D) Some other reason. And the other reason is that I felt that it was emblematic of the "hey, look at me, what I'm going through is so unique" attitude that so many people have about their lives these days, which is a world view that social media feeds. There wasn't nothing new or intersting being said about the dying or grief process in those tweets, it was just being presented in a new format, in real time. As an analogy, think if a local newsperson presented the same story in real time, with 4 daily (morning, midday, evening and 11pm) reports about the same subject matter. It would be a new format, but it would feel incredibly creepy and voyueristic, and, if it were being told in the first person, it would seem incredibly self-absorbed. Putting that same story on Twitter doesn't change those factors.
I'm posting this as a counterpoint to the other responses I've posted so far -- and I'm a little surprised that this is the only counterpoint that I've seen. And I wonder, again, whether it's age or personality or life experience or all of the above that make some people react this way and not others.
Ah, but the OP said they watched Orange Is the New Black, which definitely isn't a movie. I would still say they watched "TV" since Orange was expressly designed as an episodic experience (even if most people watch them as a binge, which I certainly did). I think it still makes sense to divide between TV and movies, because there is definitely a difference between how and why they are made. Unless you're talking about TV movies, in which case, you have to use those extra syllables.
Oh, good catch -- In that case, I think you say, "We watched Netflix."
Alas, no, but the green beans were overcooked; does that count? (No rhubarb pie, either, but lots of chocolate cake.)
Yes. The overcooked vegetables were definitely a plus.
I'm not on Twitter, but I do read articles with Monica Hesse in the byline, so I became aware of them that way. I liked them; I thought they were eloquent and poignant (so I guess E - all of the above). However, I do have to admit that my opinion was probably influenced somewhat from the context in which I read them. I think I would have still liked them if I'd read them on Twitter, but possibly not as much. My main concern in this instance would be his mother's privacy, because I am an extremely private person, but at least one of his tweets seemed to indicate that she was aware of it and it didn't bother her. If I thought there was reason to believe she didn't like it, or wasn't aware of it but wouldn't like it if she did know, then I would feel very differently about the subject.
Hmm. Why wouldn't you have liked them on Twitter? Too much of a barrage?
I read the last chat after it was over and saw your comment about Facebook: "Actually, I don't filter. I like to see everybody. I try not to comment much on people I don't know at all. They might find that weird." As one of those unknown minions, I think you SHOULD comment! We wouldn't have become friends with you and let you see our stuff if we thought it would be weird if you commented! Comment away! And if someone does think it's weird, that's their problem for friending a total stranger.
Actually, a lot of people wrote in to encourage me to randomly comment away. Get ready.
I thought the tweets were lovely; it's not that. My plaint is this: why must every aspect of our lives be public? What happened to keeping private family business private? Can't we go back to those days? That is all. I am 40. I am on FB for the pictures of my friends' kids. Not on twitter (except when looking at stuff related to new stories like this one).
Here's a question. Or an observation, rather. I get the sense that lots of people appreciated the sentiments about death because it's rare to read someone speak so honestly and so publicly about it. i.e. the Tweets acted as a public service, which outweighed the oversharing.
I wonder: What if the Tweets had been a blow-by-blow about a wedding? I'd previously thought that wedding Tweets would be less egregious, since it's less of a private event. But maybe they would be more irritating to people, because they would feel more like oversharing, personal broadcasting and less like a public service.
I appreciated his tweets for many different reasons. I felt they were heartwarming, honest, and provided an excellent window into what we go through when we say goodbye to someone important in our lives. To those who felt it was "oversharing" or whatever, I think your article speaks to why it is important to discuss how we feel about death. Grief is a personal subject and it seems taboo to talk about, but talking about it and sharing it can be key to the "healing" process (whatever that is). When my grandmother passed away last year, I wanted to share, I wanted to talk about it, I wanted people to know how important she was to me. When people ask about my ring I wear, I talk about her. I also talk about the bad and heartbreaking stuff too, like the last day in the hospital because it had such a profound effect on me. We need to have these discussions, and I like that Simon did it on publicly on Twitter.
Posting a few more responses.
I appreciated them for reasons A-moving testament, B-captured difficult feeling & C-speaking honestly. As far as B-on-the-other-side (not fully present) Cheeze, the guy's mother was dying and he was there with her day in, day out until she passed. I don't think it was terrible that he thought a little bit outside of that room for a few minutes each day. Would they be saying that if he had written in a diary or journal instead? I don't agree with A or C-on-the-don't-appreicate side, but tastes differ. B-o-t-o-s just seems very judgemental of a person who is going through an awful time. No one else was in that room, and therefore can't judge the interaction that was occuring.
I didn't like them though it did remind me of my parents deathbeds. I'll admit, upfront, I'm not sure I care for twitter at all but when I read them, the thought crossed my mind "What would his mom think about having this most private moment broaccast to the world ?" Should our entire lives be open to the world ? Or is there value in privacy ?
So if I'm watching a show on Amazon, should I say "I'm watching Amazon?"
Or, you've solved your own problem with the first half of your question. You could say "I watched a show on Amazon." That way you're still specifying that it was an episodic installment, not a a movie, but you're also not saying that it was broadcast on television.
What about "We watched a show"?
How do you decide which questions to answer? Sometimes I submit three and you answer none of them, while choosing ones that seem less interesting.
Usually, I try to choose the responses that I feel will forward a discussion -- the ones that open up new questions or take us to new places or explore a facet of the thing we haven't yet explored.
Sometimes people submit multiple versions of the same question, worded slightly differently or pretending to be from different people. And since I can see IP addresses and know they're coming from the same person, I'll often not answer those. Just because, well, it's annoying.
For awhile, there was someone who wrote in every chat asking to talk about whether women liked to be spanked. But that person no longer attends the chat.
No spoilers! But I love OITNB and have two episodes to go. It's been interesting to be a bit behind most reviewers and online people who watched the show. I've had to very carefully avoid reading too much and coming across spoilers. Not complaining, but it's an interesting phenomenon about how we are watching (binging) collectively, but are on different timelines. I had to unfollow Clinton Yates because he wanted to discuss the ending on twitter. The OP said that it was a bit too gritty for her, but the writing and characters are so incredibly funny and clever that I would encourage her to try another epi or two. On a more serious note, I have an ill parent and have not wanted to read Scott Simon's tweets because the situation hits close to home for me. (I am 35, if that matters.) Should I? Will it give me some perspective?
I think you should read them. I think it would be helpful.
And the differing timelines is really fascinating. I watched the whole series in the span of a weekend, and was dismayed when I couldn't find anyone to talk about the series with because, apparently, others did not have the incredibly lounging power that I have, and the willingness to stare at a laptop for four hours at a time.
Great column, Cupster! It's hard to outright dislike Scott Simon. He does kind of ooze sincerity - I don't doubt it's authentic, but can be kinda hard to take first thing Saturday morning. Many of his tweets were touching. Others were definitely oversharing, and I appreciated your inclusion of the question of whether his mother's privacy was being violated. I clearly remember the time he interviewed her on NPR. He was a blubbering mess by the end of it - it was almost funny. He was all like, I love you, Mom (sob!), and she was all, OK, love you too, bye, I'm off to have my nails done.
She just came across as the epitome of wit, class and togetherness.
I think this person is more offended at the tweeting than at the content. Reporters have always written articles about personal situations that deeply affected them, as decades of perusing the Post's Style and Health sections will prove. The immediacy of the medium, rather than an after-the-fact article, seems to me to be disproportionately affecting the disapprovers' views.
Yes, I do think the immediacy bothered some people -- the sense that this was all happening in real time made it more emotional for some people, but more distasteful for others.
I would like to point out that having an electronic device on during a thunderstorm, especially when that device is in a car and you are thus very close to it, is NOT recommended. You should NOT watch TV, etc or use the phone during a thunderstorm.
Wait. I know they say that for landlines and desktops, but is it really true for an iPad that's not plugged in?
This brings to mind a YouTube video of a half-naked woman warrior. Not Weiner-worthy, but makes me do a double-take.
That's the cave man pronunciation. "Me watch Amazon."
Thanks for the best laugh I've had all week. "I am the most interesting person you will ever meet, and you don't appreciate me. Sulk."
Everyone finds their own posts the most interesting.
Have you asked Mother and Father Cupcake how they'd feel if you Tweeted their final days? Maybe it's just because I'm of their generation, but frankly, I'd disinherit anyone who indicated they'd do such a thing to me when I'm dying.
I don't think Father Cupcake would care, so long as my Tweets were really well-written. I think Mother Cupcake would wonder why I was on my phone.
I know I can get all the shows and movies I want through Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and what have you, but I need the Weather Channel and Nats games. I could stream some Weather Channel broadcasts online (not the same as live tho), but I'm stuck on the baseball question. Is there a way to watch Jayson Werth's beard in high-definition another way?
Okay, I don't know about the Nats, but -- the Weather Channel? Really? Why? Of all of the reasons I've ever heard of someone needing to hang onto a cable subscription, the Weather Channel has never been one of them. What do you watch there?
Oh, I think I still would have approved of them, but I think I might not have felt so strongly about them. Reading your story, I not only got the full context, but a framework that added to the eloquence. I also got to read it at a time of my choosing. With Twitter, I think it would have felt a little more random and disjointed. Of course, I'm not on it, so what do I know. For what it's worth, I'm 34, and I have not lost a parent. But I have 2 kids, and as another poster wrote,having a kid does give you a new perspective on parent/child relationship.
Thanks for writing again.
Or just start with "We watched Orange is the New Black"? Since the follow up question would likely be "We watched ..." is usually, "well, what show/movie/etc did you watch?" anyway!
I am someone (who if you may tell from my IP address) who sent two versions of the same question. I sent one several days ago and resent it just in case it had been lost. I do not mean to switch topics, yet I would be interested in learning your thoughts in the memory implantation studies since you have written fiction that touched on that very topic. And that now makes the third time...Sorry for being such a pest.
Oh, but sometimes people write in four or fives times throughout the course of the chat. (Fear not, though -- if you send it in once, it's never lost).
I haven't read the memory implantation studies, actually, but I will. Perhaps on vacation, perhaps on my Kindle Fire.
Something that bothers me re Scott Simon's tweeting of his mother's dying is the immediacy of the posts. At least when a reporter writes an article about a personal situation affecting them deeply, it's from the perspective of at least a few days, if not a few months or years (see, e.g., Sourcette Roxanne Roberts' classic article re her father's suicide).
One of the most gripping, moving, tragic pieces I can remember reading in Style.
Wait, I thought you were supposed to be OK in a car (if you're not able to get to a building) because the metal of the car frame would distribute the electricity, or because the only contact with the ground is the tires, or some such reason.
God forbid any of us ever need to pass a lightning safety course.
I appreciated the tweets. I have often wanted to write about my Grandfather's last days where he chose to die of cancer at home. It was a unique experience about comforting a loved one in the midst of life going on: the salesman knocking on the door just seconds after he drew his last breath; the relatives fighting over his things with him awake and aware, the teenager who stole his medical patch to get high, the nurses who came and spoke frankly of how much time he had left in front of him, the friends he hadn't seen in years, the priest who wanted him to return to Catholicism before he passed, etc. If I had a Twitter account, I could have remembered all this. On the other side, I fear that writing this may hurt others who were there, and perhaps it is best to let their stories fade away.
You know, what I find interesting about this is that you say "it was a unique experience," and yet it seem like a completely universal experience. Aren't all deaths strange blends of the complete mundane mixed with the devastating?
Benjamin Franklin advises not viewing your iPad while kite-flying.
Just use a kite-flying app.
I didn't read them at all (bear with me). It just seems like it would be so personal, and I don't want to get involved. Are the people who liked them people who still have both parents? who haven't been thru the death of a parent? My mom would be mortified by the world we live in now (she's been gone about 16 years now. Can't believe it). And well, when you're with a person - you should be WITH them. Not tweeting, not facebooking, not distracted. BE THERE. especially on someone's death bed.
I need to see radar and hear about all the severe weather around the country and hurricane reports and Jim Cantore is like a rock star to me, so I'm just a huge weather nerd.
But...you can do all of that online, and far more easily, and with far more immediacy (instead of waiting for someone else's schedule) than you can with the television. That's the thing I don't understand. Weather is far more easily done online than on TV.
I just realized that I'll be in England next month so I look forward to picking up your book. Any idea where I can find it? Large bookstores only?
Most all bookstores, I think. The big chain there is Waterstones. Happy reading!
Would Father Cupcake prescribe the following hyphen in the sentence, "I sent one several days ago and re-sent it just in case it had been lost"? Otherwise, there's an implication of resentment.
Probably, but I enjoyed the idea of the question being both resented and re-sent.
Or maybe I, I mean he/she, just found someone else to answer the question and they fell in love and moved in together, so my, I mean his/her, IP addy has changed and/or the question is moot. Or at least that's the way E L James would write it. (BTW, how sad is it thast when I type "5" into Google to find the author's name "50 Shades of Grey" is the first autoconmplete option. I don't know what option I'm expecting, it's just thsat this one saddens me...) And on a final related note: knowing you get those kind of questions makes me really worry about the kind of chatter feedback Weingarten must get. No wonder he had to dial it down to once a month.
I actually checked with Weingarten, to see if this person also wrote into him. He said nope.
I only remember the devastating, not the mundane.
Really? Maybe people have a wide variety of experiences. When my grandmother died a few years ago, the whole family decamped to Iowa to be with her in hospice. I remember the sudden sobbing, the aching chest, the panicked listening to her breathing...but I also remember that in the next room, the family was working on a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and trying to figure out where to order pizza from.
I should not have termed death a "unique experience." That was careless on my part. I should have said the experience was unique to me in my lifetime. Yet it something that is universal. In a way, the tweets may help people like me who seldom have had to go through the experience. That may be another reason why I appreciated the tweets.
I never realized how weird The Weather Channel was until I suggested to a college friend from Singapore that we check it before heading outside the dorm. "Wait, you guys have an entire CHANNEL devoted to weather?" Um, yes. "Does it show anything other than the weather? Other programming?" Er... sometimes they do big, drama-laden segments on EXTREME hurricanes happening elsewhere in the country? As I was explaining this, I suddenly realized that this is pretty much the North American equivalent of all those "Weird Game Shows" we think of as an Asian export. It's one of our "Americans, aren't they incredibly weird?" things.
I LOVE this. If someone from Asia thought this was strange, we might have won the weirdness war. Temporarily, at least.
Get a Roku! Sign up for the services you mentioned! They even have a weather app! We also signed up for MLB.tv which we stream thru the Roku. BUT, you will not get any Nats or Orioles. Sometimes the Nats are on local broadcast channels, and we will watch then. Otherwise, we hit a local bar and watch there. Totally don't miss cable, though. And it annoys me that the MASN is only available through cable. It's unAmerican to cut off the public from their baseball teams.
Thanks for the suggestion.
Um, whatever happened to just writing it down (e.g. typing it into a file) when it happens, so that you can come back to it later? Not everything you type has to be seen by anyone, let alone everyone, else right that minute.
Well, there is something about the format -- the restricted 140 character limit -- that might be helpful in reminding peopel to write something down. It's low pressure -- you're not trying to fully develop themes, just get down a quick thought or two.
Journalism is to "first draft of history" as tweeting is to ???
First draft of journalism?
This is seriously weird. It's such totally Weingarten territory. Oh, wait.
Yeah. I get the sense that this chatter really just wanted to talk about 50 Shades of Grey with a lady, not with Weingarten.
And this is what MY grandmother would have enjoyed about the dying process.
On one night, when she was actually feeling okay, she asked to be wheeled into the next room, where she tried a bite of the pizza. And I was shocked -- SHOCKED -- because it was the only time in my life I ever saw my grandmother eat fast food. She was teeny-tiny and loved to lecture people about unhealthy eating.
As a card-carrying AARP-er, I find it curious that the younger set thinks anything is oversharing. Isn't that what they do on facebook, routinely -- overshare, to their hundreds of friends?
I think the younger set has much stricter boundaries on what is acceptable to share on Facebook. If you'll notice, it's ALWAYS the moms who are jumping onto Facebook to write something like, "Hi Scotty, happy birthday, I can still remember the day we conceived you in a motel in Tallahasee."
that the baby born on the Metro platform an hour or so ago picked L'Enfant Plaza to appear on?
I am reading all this - and well, my husband used to work at the weather channel, and this is SO amusing to me. I never met Jim Cantore, though. *sigh*
You can tell him he has many fans!
Three words -- Coast Guard: Alaska. Totally puts TWC in my standard rotation when nothing's on and I'm looking for something to watch.