Even before the pandemic, these were places where what I call “throwaway culture” was thriving. The staff aren’t paid a living wage, often have poor training and are hopelessly overworked. The residents face elder abuse, and large percentages of them are desperately lonely. A good number get no visitors at all, which pushes rates of dementia among residents to unbelievable levels.

I suggested to Mr. Carlson’s audience that it was no surprise that throwaway culture kicked into hyperdrive in nursing homes during our current moment. I was excited to be able to make my case to a national audience; afterward, I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was help my wife get our 2-year-old to bed and go to sleep myself.

But that’s when the messages started coming in. Email. Facebook messenger. LinkedIn. Twitter. One after the other after the other. And they were horrifying.

It is one thing for a professor of bioethics to cite abstract numbers and trends and offer a theoretical explanation for them. It is another thing to get message after message detailing the human toll of what you had just discussed.