How Social Media Is Changing The Way We Approach Death

“How Social Media Is Changing The Way We Approach Death.” By Paul Bisceglio, The Atlantic.

Death has long been taboo in an American culture that values youth, but an open conversation online can increase our enjoyment of life and understanding of its eventual end.

Social media support networks tend to enable more frequent and lower-stakes conversations about dying than traditional hospital support groups, which helps stave off the sense of isolation that usually accompanies life-threatening conditions, says Alicia Staley, a three-time cancer survivor and co-founder of the weekly tweetchat Breast Cancer Social Media (#BCSM).

For people following the sick and dying, Jody Schoger, another cancer survivor and BCSM co-founder, worries about the emotional toll of a growing conversation about death. The more you invest yourself in broad online networks, after all, the more deaths you’re going to have to come to terms with. “You’re getting this perception of death that we didn’t have before,” she says. “It can seem like everyone has cancer. This is an aspect of social media that I’m not sure we’re entirely emotionally caught up to.” Yet for those in good health, Schoger and others agree that the potential benefits of digital talk about death still seem to outweigh its negative consequences.

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