The newspaper columnists tone-policing your grief on social media

I’m always surprised by the extent to which some newspaper columnists are disturbed by the unwashed masses being able to communicate their feelings of grief.

First Dylan Byers and then Rosamund Irwin have felt the need to write newspaper columns this week to say they find people tweeting about the death of a celebrity on Twitter fake and shallow in some way.

Amusingly, Dylan haughtily said: “My reaction to death on social media is to shut my computer and go outside.” And then obviously fire it straight back up again to rattle off his column, published the day after Robin Williams died.

Well, hey, most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to broadcast our reckons on media platforms.

People hear the news of a celebrity death. They feel a loss. They express that briefly on their social media platform of choice.

What’s wrong with that?

Why would you want to tone police it?

Rosamund says she isn’t sure what an “RIP Robin” tweet is trying to achieve. I think it’s pretty clear. It allows someone to express their feelings. Why should it be trying to achieve anything else?

And if your objection is that this seems like people are trying to turn a celebrity death into something about themselves, maybe have a thought about whether you might not just be doing the same thing by making your next newspaper column about it?

Reading those columns, I end up imagining people like Rosamund and Dylan as some kind of Jeeves & Wooster character, snobbishly sighing “Oh, it’s simply beastly how one has to endure the opinions of other people these days…”

Let’s face it, public grief used to be a thriving business model for the print media. 25p per word. “RIP Nan. Love Bill, Carole, William and the kids” in the classifieds.

The death of Robin Williams has triggered so much discussion in the media of how people need to share their feelings and not bottle them up.

But not too much sharing, eh? Otherwise you’ll upset the columnists…