What exactly is wrong with the Kellers?

“What exactly is wrong with the Kellers?” By Christie Aschwanden, Knight Science Journalism at MIT.

“Tone-deaf, ghoulish, & lacking in empathy,” tweeted Boing Boing writer Xeni Jardin.  “Reprehensible,” wrote Ayelet Waldman. “A tragically shallow misreading,” tweeted Steve Silberman.

A pair of opinion pieces published in quick succession by Guardian columnist Emma Keller and her husband, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, were greeted on the internet as personal attacks on Lisa Bonchek Adams, a Connecticut resident who discusses life with metastatic cancer via Twitter and her blog. After becoming acquainted with Adams’s work last fall, Emma Keller found herself hooked on her updates. “I felt embarrassed at my voyeurism,” Keller wrote in a January 8 column that has since been removed. (Read a cached copy here.) “Should there be boundaries in this kind of experience? Is there such a thing as TMI? Are her tweets a grim equivalent of deathbed selfies, one step further than funeral selfies? Why am I so obsessed?” The questions that Keller raises about her own voyeurism and boundaries in the age of social media are valid ones (I explored some of them in a 2010 Los Angeles Times piece), but her method for examining them could not be more wrong.

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