How NOT to deliver disturbing news

There is a trend developing in this electronic world, that I would hope people will really take a look at and re-evaluate. It is beyond inappropriate, in my view. This trend is to send out notice of an individual’s sudden and unexpected death through a mass email list.

I just got one from PelicanNetwork, and let the owner know that in my opinion this is in extremely poor taste. I have known about this death for most of the week, but if I hadn’t, this is not how I would want to find out. Think about it. Think of the people who hadn’t known. Is this the way they should find out? This is the kind of news one prefers to get from friends, personally, not through a huge email list, many of whom don’t even know this person.

Two years ago, I was traveling in Peru with a friend. We were out on the Amazon, completely isolated. When we finally returned to civilization, 10 days later, at the hotel in Lima, I checked my email. I had received another sudden, unexpected death notice via a different email list. I could not breathe – literally. My friend and I were both devastated. We spent $200 on international phone calls trying to find out what happened, how, and why. This was the type of news that we would have received from friends upon our return. Instead, we received it in isolation, far from our beloved Big Sur, where we could hold and be held.

Think. Please. Would you want to be notified via a huge impersonal Big Sur email list about the death of someone you had known since he was in Kindergarten?? Maybe I am old school, where manners and civility, particularly in times of tragedy, matter. Maybe being unconscious of the pain one’s actions can cause is the way of the world, but I don’t think so.

10 thoughts on “How NOT to deliver disturbing news

  1. Yes, have a Heart. Caring out rates drama everytime. And human beings are love beings. Not Hot Topics!!! Thanks Kate.

  2. No one else should have to learn the justice of this plea the hard way. Let empathy reign.

  3. I’ve come to view MASS emails of all sorts as very rude. I know one person who deliberately leaves off any opening greeting/address and manipulates the tone in order to appear as if they are talking to ‘you’–but they’re NOT. Ever since I caught on to this individual’s game I don’t answer any such emails from them. It also made me consider the situatin you’ve presented. I did have someone send out a mass email of their child’s death and guess where my email sent that –yep into the spam folder where I never caught it.
    Yes it takes time to be considerate and thoughtful–especially about death. Perhaps mass emails reveal the MOST about those who send them.

  4. Awwwww the electronic revolution has caught up to us and the politically-overcorrect. I agree with you Kate, its gone way too far. What about people that learn the death of a loved one or close friend via the evening news? That too has gotten way out of control. See why i’m about to dump tecnology after working in the field over 30yrs? Call me a Technology Luddite & i’m proud of it.

  5. I agree. There is some need to fill the e-space, and anything is fodder for this need.

  6. When did our personal lives suddenly become “content”, without permission, for someone’s very agendized email blasts?

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