Site icon Patricia Prijatel

Rudeness, Social Media, and Cancer

Mary says Robin Roberts is “more concerned about her ‘star ness’ than her health.”  When Kathy and Michele object, calling Mary “rude,” Mary responds.  “If she wasn’t a celebrity, you wouldn’t care, admit it. She wouldn’t care about me. So, I just treat them as regular folk. Can’t be PC all the time. I work in the real world.” 

That was the discussion one morning last week on

Mary sounds like a royal pain in the asterisk.  And she naturally has to share it because we share every blasted thing because we can in our 24/7 wired world.

Roberts had posted on Facebook that she had to stay home from her job as cohost of Good Morning America due to an infection that could be related to treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome brought on by chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

So ran the story, encouraging comments, which, in the way of comments went their own way from unnatural coziness to unnatural nastiness. 

Mary says she lives in some “real world” somewhere. But in what world is it OK to be rude to people who are sick?  (Or, for that matter, who aren’t sick?)  Robin did not ask for this media scrutiny and, I suspect, wishes it would go away.  Imagine people following your prognosis and posting/printing/tweeting it over and over and over? You’re trying to beat the beast of cancer while also fighting constant reports about your fight—many of which are inaccurate and most of which are invasive.  That seems at least one fight too many.  

And Robin didn’t ask for strangers like me to blog about her using her first name as though we were buddies.  Hey, Robin, whazzup?

But, Robin’s “star-ness aside” (that’s not a word, Mary), what’s with being rude? Mary appears pretty unapologetic—  she used her full name, after all.   Does that signal the fact that she thinks it is just fine to be so critical of a fellow human being fighting a deadly disease?   Worse, does she think she is somehow right?  That because she thinks it, it is therefore good and worth sharing?  

That seems to be a mentality right now.  We think it therefore we say it.  I wish this tendency  would go away—this sharing of our deepest misunderstandings and darkest thoughts.  But it is truly sad that it has infected the cancer world, which already has enough infections to fight.

• Read more about TNBC in my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

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