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.