Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sheryl Sandberg Re-Enters The Ring with a Book Promotion, and Readers are Put Off Again

WASHINGTON, D.C. April 25 (DPI) —  Sheryl Sandberg is promoting a book about raising children and helping them handle grief, and The New York Times site generously gave the high profile Facebook COO a forum to discuss all of that – with a notably mixed reaction from readers.

Sandberg, a Harvard MBA who in 2013 promoted a book that encourages women to assert themselves, lost her 47-year-old husband two years ago to a heart attack. And that experience – and the process of helping her small children cope with their father’s death –  has prompted another softly edged book, and with it another foray into public promotion.

On this occasion The Times gave readers a chance to comment on Sandberg’s opinion piece. And many of the comments – and almost all the popular comments – told Sandberg to stop pretending she has special insights on life, and go back to her office and work on Facebook’s problems.

One poster, who received hundreds of Recommended clicks, gave a wise response:  “Grief is a very personal emotion, in some ways the most personal emotion there is in life. I’m sorry – but there is something a little unseemly (and Harvard-like) in your efforts to repeatedly tell everyone else how to succeed like you, first at work and, now, in our most intimate emotions.” Another was less gentle: “Why does The New York Times fawn over this billionaire?”

The top recommended comments on NYTimes.com yesterday:

Ms. Sandberg I am deeply sorry for your children’s and your loss. However, as a working mother who is a salaried employee and not a senior decision maker like yourself – therefore not possessing any real influence or job security – I cannot relate to much of what you wrote. My children have to be resilient through hardship because they have no other choice. I cannot take time off of work to give them the attention that you can. A family dinner is unheard of in our house because my husband and I both work so late – not by our choice – but because the people who pay us demand it – that we cannot be home at a decent hour to sit with our children as you can since you are the boss. So – I would argue that resilience is a trait that most American children already possess by necessity and that what our society really needs is not so much more understanding of grief and resilience but rather a culture that empowers parents and caretakers to take the time they need to be with the people for whom they care when they need it – including a family dinner at least one day a week.

Ms. Sandberg: My mother died when I was 4 and I am sorry that your children have also lost their father at such a young age. But – your children really need you now as a mom and Facebook (where you are COO) also has a lot of problems, primarily its role in the spread of fake news and illegal weapons – and its recent use as a medium for someone to live-stream the murder of an innocent person. Your husband died 2 years ago in May 2015. I just don’t see how you have had the time or perspective to write a book advising other people on how to deal with death (“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy”). And you don’t know how resilient your children are, as its only been 2 years and you haven’t even started the challenging teenage years. Most importantly, grief is a very personal emotion, in some ways the most personal emotion there is in life. I’m sorry – but there is something a little unseemly (and Harvard-like) in your efforts to repeatedly tell everyone else how to succeed like you, first at work and, now, in our most intimate emotions. Please focus your attention on your own children and your own job. Those are both very big responsibilities, especially right now.

This is exactly what one needs on a Monday morning: one of the richest, most powerful women in American business to tell us how she dealt with adversity. How galling.

I’m always so grateful when NYT commentators speak truth to power here. Whether it’s a billionaire giving advice on grief to the 99%, or the NYT hiring a conservative writer, or the 1% taking their newborns to work & writing about it, my fellow commentators are not afraid to critique & criticize. Thank you. You usually say what I’m feeling, but more eloquently. The privileged have enough power as it is. Let us hold the NYT’s feet to the fire & remind them that normal people (particularly those out here in the fly-over part) read the paper too.

Ms. Sandberg has suffered a grievous loss. I am impressed by her resilience and fortitude. But she is out of touch with how people live and the resources available to them. This makes her advice particularly out of place on coping with family tragedy. I do not want to take shots at her but perhaps she is not ideal to tell the masses how to manage. The clue that is troubling is that on that particular vacation her children were home with the help, not with her and her husband. Something that would never occur in my family at that stage. Something is off here. I suggest she stick to advice on social media. They do need help.

Why does the NY Times fawn over this billionaire? I’m sorry, but fatherless and motherless children are commonplace and invisible. They rarely benefit from the best schools, doctors, psychologists, security and a Teflon smooth path that the mega rich enjoy.
Ms. Sandberg, if you want to be taken seriously, give your money away to help the poor children. There are many.


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