ONE of the characteristics of the internet age is the lack of thought that is evident in people’s reaction to events.
Somehow everyone feels the need to react quickly. This may well be due to the fact that we have grown used to instantaneous gratification.
So many things that once took a long time to obtain or see, are now available at the click of a mouse. It creates a false sense of expectation and also a sense that life can always be lived at that pace.
Thus it is not surprising to see the reactions to the article by actress Angelina Jolie in the The New York Times, announcing that she had undergone a double mastectomy so that she could reduce the chance that she would die of breast cancer.
Nobody has a thoughtful word, everybody has become part of a cheer squad.
Jolie writes that she has the BRCA1 gene and her doctors had estimated that she had a 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer.
Her mother, she writes, died of breast cancer at the age of 56 and she says she can now tell her children that they don’t need to fear they will lose to her to this form of cancer.
Inherent in this statement is the claim, though not overtly, that Jolie has increased her lifespan. But is that really true? Can a human being cheat death? Can we put off the day of reckoning, the day when the grim reaper arrives?
I fear very much that this false impression is being given to whoever reads Jolie’s article. And it is wrong. We all have a time appointed to die. And even if we encase ourselves in concrete, to protect ourselves from any kind of injury, death will come, right on time.
One may even be able to cheat taxes. But not death.
There are a few other disturbing things in Jolie’s essay. She writes that breast cancer kills 458,000 women every year, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. Can women from these countries ever entertain the thought of having a gene scan to find out their chances of dying of breast cancer?
The breast cancer genes are patented by a company known as Myriad Genetics and it controls the test for the genes. The test can be done only in the US – a doctor in Australia told a close relative this recently – and it costs a good amount, in excess of $US3000. Certainly, no woman in a poor or developing country would be able to even dream about having the test done.
Not only can Jolie afford to have the test done, she can also get the best possible silicone job after the mastectomy to ensure that, outwardly, everything looks as it was before. Her career will not suffer. Her essay tends to give false hope to many women.
Was there really a need to publicise this in the way it has been done? If it was a matter of reassuring her children would it not have been better kept within the confines or her own family? One wonders.
Given the politically correct era we live in, most people do not dare to contradict anything a woman says or does. Apparently, there can never be a case when a woman says or does something that is wrong, immoral, deceitful or illogical. The response is always that the person who is critical is being so because the speaker/writer is a woman.
Another view of Jolie’s act is here.