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Garbage Day on #WhereIsKate 2 min read
Kate Middleton

Garbage Day on #WhereIsKate

The indispensable Garbage Day newsletter digs deep on the origins of internet conspiracies before Kate Middleton's cancer diagnosis announcement.

By Cary Littlejohn

I felt a lot of things in the moments when Kate, Princess of Wales, announced that her weeks-long disappearance from public life was due to a cancer diagnosis.

I felt like I did when I was a child, not quite 10 years old, when Princess Diana died, and for whatever reason, I took that news quite hard. I remember news of it breaking; I remember writing about it in my little journal at the time; I remember staying up (and failing to stay up) to watch her funeral and Elton John perform "Candle in the Wind."

I felt the rush of a news junkie, as I was on Twitter shortly before the princess's announcement, reading tweets saying some form of "Big news incoming at the top of the hour." I told people it was coming. I felt in the know.

I felt the old-school pull of the monoculture, where I assumed everyone's TV was showing the same news at the same time. Even as I thought it, I knew it wasn't the case. We don't have uniform access to the same news like once upon a time ago; when I texted my mom during the announcement, she had no idea it was happening.

I felt a pang of ugly remembering, a light triggering of bad feelings, as one of CNN's medical experts speculated on what kind of cancer it could possibly be, logging a speculative guess that it might be colorectal cancer. The major abdominal surgery. The two weeks in the hospital. It took me right back to a year before, almost to the day, when we learned that my dad had cancer. In his colon. That required an abdominal surgery. That kept him in the hospital for two weeks. He wouldn't make it two more weeks after that.

When I got past my own memories, I was struck by the London-based CNN correspondent's passing remark that carried more than a little condemnation for the rampant speculation that had been burning up the internet for weeks. I felt online enough to know the big moments, but still unsure of just how much I'd missed.

It's because of that I found myself captivated by Ryan Broderick's Garbage Day recap of how we (the online world) got here.

I admire the know-how, the diligence, the synthesizing prowess to be able to cobble together something like this, but I utterly lack it. I still wear digital training wheels compared to this kind of reporting. But I'm so thankful for it. If you found yourself wondering about some of the weirder royal-obsessive sides of this truly sad story, look no further. Garbage Day has just what you need.