Should I Help My Aging, Ailing Dad Access His Toxic Web Feed? – The New York Times

I am 50. My father and I have not been especially close for all of my adult life because of his inability to communicate or relate to me, to others or to the world in general in a meaningful way. He and my mother separated before I was 2. He was occasionally abusive with her. Decades ago, when he was having some acute mental health issues, there was apparently talk of schizophrenia, but he abandoned conventional mental health care and ran off to a monastery instead. Eventually, he returned and held down a good job and lived his life, but there has always been either the threat or presence of his mental illness.

Delusions, psychosis, idées fixes, persecution complex, whatever: To some extent it has always been there. Sometimes it would manifest as raging verbal abuse and threats of violence, sometimes as just an obsessive need to talk about things I don’t believe in or that are otherwise meaningless, but it was always impossible to get past them without conflict of some sort. He’s also deep into almost every malignant conspiracy theory you can think of. As you can imagine, this has made any sort of close relationship impossible, and we’ve gone between careful, infrequent contact and outright estrangement.

As he has aged, his danger and menace have pretty much disappeared, and he has had health issues. Now he’s just a sick, frail old man. I helped with his cancer treatment, and he was very appreciative and generally a good patient, and we eventually settled back to our old routine. He can be a very kind, gentle, humorous and generous person. But now he has had a stroke, and he basically can’t speak, read or write. There’s nobody else to help him. So I’m seeing him more than I have in decades, taking time off work and helping every day with speech therapy, email, banking, shopping, medical correspondence and video visits. But here’s the problem: He’s getting bored and wants help navigating to the various websites (which he can’t read anyway) and YouTube channels that push all this ridiculous, hateful nonsense. Anti-masker “plandemic”? “Globalist” world takeover? Stop the steal? 9/11 an inside job? Sandy Hook massacre was faked? Yes, and then some. He can’t find any of this without my help, and I just can’t bring myself to help him here.

Can I refuse to help him access information he desires but which I find morally objectionable? Or is he just a frail but crazy old man who doesn’t have long to live, so let’s humor him because it’s harmless and it will make him happy? Name Withheld

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.