(The following excerpt from NPR’s Simon: Live-Tweeting Death by Pamela Ruttledge, Ph.D., M.B.A., originally appeared on psychology today.com on August 8, 2013. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
NPR’s popular host, Scott Simon, live-tweeted his 84-year-old mother’s passing from her bedside in a Chicago hospital. By doing so, he challenged some commonly held beliefs about social media in general and Twitter in particular. Twitter, due to its terse style, is often held up to be superficial, void of genuine emotion and incapable of creating a meaningful narrative. Simon’s eloquence, charm, pain, and humor over five difficult days should have created a bit of cognitive dissonance for those who think that Twitter-speak reduces people to idiots. If you read his posts during the last hours he spent with his mother, you would be impressed by his ability to say so much with so little. Like many others, you would be moved to tears. And you might also reevaluate the ability of social media to capture meaningful human experience.