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Live-Tweeting Death: Lessons from Scott Simon's Mother
By: Christine Geraci
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People die every day. It's a grim but necessary part of life. Even in today's digital age, we still don't talk as openly about death as we could.
 
The death of Patricia Lyons Simon Newman Gilban may change that.
 
Patricia, who passed away July 29, is the mother of NPR's Scott Simon. Her son chronicled her last days on Twitter, a coping mechanism that struck both chords and nerves with many people.
 
With so much discussion about online privacy and security, it's understandable for some to question why Simon would share such a private, intimate and heartbreaking time in his life with 1.2 million Twitter followers.
 
A simple TODAY.com poll asked "Do you turn to social media for comfort in times of grief?" A whopping 83 percent said no — it's too public. 
 
Well, that's all fine and good for them. 
 
There are a few things these people need to remember here, before they get all up in arms about Simon's choices.
 
Twitter is a micro-blogging site. So technically, this is no different than had Simon chosen to chronicle his mother's death in a series of blog posts. He just didn't do it on a dedicated site with his own URL. He essentially used Twitter to grieve in real time, without an editor, without reflection. 
 
It's his choice. You should see the crap people share on Twitter, rife with curse words and pointless drivel that barely entertains my dog. And you know what? It's their choice to share that stuff. Just like it's Simon's choice to live-tweet his mother's death. 
 
This is what social media is supposed to do. For every person up in arms about this, there are others who are finding strength and inspiration in following Simon's story. Simon is inspiring us to face our own mortality, creating a spirited conversation in the process. He is sharing genuine feelings and a raw human experience. He wouldn't be able to do this on such a grand scale without social media. 
 
Personally, I tip my hat to Simon, and send my deepest condolences for his loss. I also thank him for being brave enough to share his experience with the world.


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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