Facebook, where a picture is worth a thousand words

Facebook: a popular social-media site bringing friends and acquaintances together.                                                                                  

Facebook: a place you can reunite with classmates and colleagues from jobs past.                                                                                     

Facebook: a place to plaster baby pictures, ultrasound images, and various snapshots of your kids. 

The first two definitions seem wonderful. I can join Facebook and reconnect with that guy who sat behind me in English class; the guy I had the hots for but was too shy to tell him. I can join Facebook and talk with my relatives; the ones who moved far away and I see once a year. I can join Facebook and talk with my coworkers about our bosses insane demands. Sweet! Sign me up! 

But a person enters the world that is Facebook and gets bombarded with pictures. All kinds of pictures! scantily clad friends or relatives, pictures you wished you’d never seen. There’s that guy from church – the one with the squeaky clean image – taking shots in Vegas. Suddenly, what happens in Vegas, in our own homes, doesn’t stay there. 

Many say this is harmful – putting our kids on display. I agree with them. But that’s not what this post is about. 20/20 has done enough specials regarding protecting your children on the Internet. They have focused on the appropriate usage of social-media sites. And school boards across the country are bringing in social-media experts to warn children of the dangers that lurk on Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. 

What I’m writing about concerns sensitivity, compassion, and well… being a good human. 

Women with endometriosis suffer with a myriad of painful and distressing symptoms. Among them, pain and heavy bleeding. But, according to Resolve, a website and outreach organization informing the public about infertility and offering support to the afflicted, 40% of endometriosis patients will experience some degree of infertility. 40% out of the estimated 85 million women world-wide who have endometriosis is a staggering statistic. Many of these women do go on to get pregnant, but many struggle for years before doing so. And for every woman who achieves pregnancy, there is her twin endo-sister, unable to.

The disease wreaks havoc on a woman’s tubes, on her ovaries, on other pelvic structures. With surgery, and the progression of the disease, adhesions are formed that bind her organs into a painful web. And she is left alone in this, the only people who understand being other women possessed by this disease. She goes to the markets, the malls, even driving along in her car, and is assaulted with smiling, cherub-like babies and school children frolicking. She attends family events and witnesses the new additions crawling about, and there is that sting, “will I ever have a child?” People may approach her, in jest, and insensitively ask when she’s going to get pregnant. Their words don’t mean to make tears form in her eyes, but they do. Reality smacks her in the face. This disease, that she never asked for!, is robbing her of more than a few days of comfort a month. It’s stealing a chance to hear a smiling toddler say “Mama!” 

She befriends other women with this disease, other infertile women. She goes on-line. And there she meets more women, women who feel her pain. But with this chance to communicate with like-minds comes another smack in the face. Pictures, of new babies, of kids in their baseball uniform, of those first ballet recitals, come at her with hurricane gusto. And they are right there, on Facebook, or Myspace. And she begins to wonder, is there any place where she won’t be reminded of her infertility? 

People shout, “I have the right to put my kids’ pictures on-line” or “if you can’t handle it, don’t look!” Yes, they have that right. And I’m not here to take that away from them. Your Facebook is yours to do with as you like. But, I think the world would be better off if we all paused before posting something – picture or update – and asked ourselves: “could this hurt someone?” 

Examine your friends lists. Take a moment and see who you’ve befriended on social-media sites. Do you know someone who has been struggling with infertility? Are they on that list? Now imagine, just for a moment, that you were in their shoes. How do you think seeing baby faces would make them feel? Can you be sensitive to their status as an infertile person? Can you show compassion? Can you respect their pain, even if you can’t share in it? 

You have the right to plaster whatever you want on Facebook. Again, I’m not dictating what people should and shouldn’t use social-media for. I am just asking that you consider other people when doing so. If a friend contacts you divulging how a picture on your Facebook wall caused them grief you have an option (assuming you want to keep this person as a friend). Facebook, especially, has a nifty feature that allows the poster to select who sees the messages posted. Create a group of your non-infertile friends, and when posting pictures of babies or children, select that group. If you think that is too much trouble, keep posting as you are. But know that you may alienate a friend. 

Jeanne from Chronichealing.com has recently posted on this same topic. I urge everyone to read her post, as well. And please people, think of your fellow-man (or, in this case, woman) when conducting yourself on-line.


4 responses to “Facebook, where a picture is worth a thousand words

  1. Endochick,

    Thank you so much for this heartfelt and thorough post about a topic that affects so many people who you know and so many people who I know.

    With infertility affecting 1 out of 8 couples, chances are that everyone out there knows someone who is struggling with it. Due to unfortunate societal stigma, many infertility patients don’t discuss their condition openly.

    Hopefully by writing about this topic during National Infertility Awareness Week, we can get the message out to even more people that this picture-posting is an issue for a great number of people.

    For those struggling with infertility who are not familiar with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, the link Endochick listed above will take you to their site.

    As you said, people have a right to post whatever they wish on their Facebook walls or avatars. You made a very good point, though, that if there is a means of posting pictures to those who are not struggling with infertility… it would be wonderful if people could take just a bit of time to sort who sees those images.

    I’m actually not familiar with the feature you referred to for doing that. How does one display pictures to a subset of Facebook friends?


    • Jeanne,

      Glad you asked! When you write a message in Facebook there should be pull-down menu next to the “Share”button. If you pull that down, it will ask you if you want to post to Everyone, Friends of Friends, Only Friends, or Customize. If you don’t pull the menu down, you’ll post however you have it set-up in Account Settings. Mine is auto set to Friends Only. I will sometimes set it to Everyone. If I didn’t set it to everyone, then my posts are protected and only my friends will see them, i.e. they don’t show up on my wall. If you select Customize, you can go through your Friends list and select who you want to view it.

  2. Endochick,

    At first, when you said “share” all I could think of was the “share” option that comes up under a wall item (for sharing links). Then, I re-read what you said and took another look and saw the blue “share” button to the right of the box one puts a status message in (under “what’s on your mind?”). Oops. I was looking right at it and missed it.

    Just to the left of that blue share button (by the padlock) is the pull down menu you mentioned.

    When I clicked customize on that menu, I don’t get a list like you do. I get a field where you can input a name. The field says “Hide this from”.

    There is a box underneath that where you can type in the name of the person you want to hide photos from.

    If you click in that box, it says “start typing the name of a friend or friend list”. My photo privacy is normally set to “Only friends”. So, I took the customize option to see what you’re talking about. Then, I typed in a name to see what would happen and it found the name of the friend I was looking for and the field was ready to take another name if I had wanted to add another name. It is a box that will hold a list for whomever you’d like to block photos for.

    You can create the list on my Facebook version… simply by typing the name of who you want photos blocked for. (After the last Facebook upgrade, it came to my attention that my Facebook version was different than one of my friends. I’m not sure my Facebook ever got upgraded all the way. Maybe that’s why I don’t get a list). In any event, it works regardless of whether you are picking from a list (like you described) or creating the list you want (like I did).

    It honestly sounds more complicated than it is if you are looking at the Facebook screen. It’s 3 clicks and then you’re ready to input the name(s) you wish to block photos for on my version.

    Endochick, I don’t know how you found this setting (!) but it’s fast and easy to use. 🙂 Thank you for sharing it!

    To try it out, I picked a person (we’ll call her Jane Smith) to hide photos for, saved, and it said “only friends except Jane Smith”. Then, since I didn’t really want to hide photos from that person, I simply went back in the same way and removed the “Jane Smith” from the box. It went back to my regular setting (only friends).

    So, literally, if one wanted to hide photos from a particular friend… it would be 3 clicks, input the friend’s name (or use the list you get), and save. That’s it!

    It’s a quick and easy process that could save a friend or loved one from getting upset unnecessarily. Thank you again. Great find!!


  3. Well said. I wonder if parents have ever considered that their FB behavior can sometimes feel like death by a thousand cuts.

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