cyle talley

Liking Someone’s Bad, Bad News*

We’re not quite sure what she was expecting, really.

If this were the nineteen-fifties, certainly her mother would have frowned upon making public such tragedy. It seems to us that the fifties had more dignity- quiet dignity- than we do now and we envy the generation that arose from such times. Stiffer upper lips, less self-satisfaction, certainly less self-importance. It seems to us that today, everyone is certain that they’re meant to be celebrities.

This is why, we think, she put the news on Facebook.

We don’t mean to be judgmental or gossipy, though we know that we are being both of those things. It’s just that, we just cannot stomach, cannot fathom the idea of making public information- in this case, the diagnosis of cancer- one’s personal tragedy. It is our belief that a phone call to the important people in her life would have been more appropriate. We understand that hazards of such a thing. Repeating the news over and over again, reliving the tragedy and possible death sentence on a phone call-by-phone call basis can really wear on a person. We know. After all, it was only two years ago that one of our own mothers had to make those same phone calls, informing various family members that she was going to fight, going to win, going to come out the other side of this thing better, stronger, more assured in her femininity and desire to live well.

We saw how our mother had to take a few minutes between each phone call to release the tears she had been holding back so as to appear strong, confident, bold. It took her hours. When she was finished, her mascara was running badly and her cheeks were sallow from the emotion. She slept for hours afterward.

We know that such a thing would not be easy.

Still, posting news on Facebook strikes us as terrifically crass, despite its inherent conveniences. After all, what is a person to do upon reading such a thing? Recognition of the post is necessary somehow, certainly. A response of some kind, we assume. But what? Ought we to comment? Ought we to give our text based consolation and affirmation? G-d forbid someone actually “like” such awful news.

It seems to us the ultimate irony, the “liking” of someone’s bad, bad news.


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