Friday, October 22, 2010

Facebook and Why It's an Infertile's Worst Nightmare

I know I'm not alone when I thank the great minds that have allowed us to virtually connect with one another. I know many talk about "the good old days" but I can't imagine having to cope with infertility, which already drowns us in public silence, and not be able to share our fears and joys with a community of women/men who truly understand what we're going through.

Some of us connect in anonymity, via blogs, Twitter and even take that leap to become friends in real life. But the one virtual connector that seems to always come up in conversation is Facebook -- and not in a good way. Most of us are on it, willingly or by peer-pressure. The idea of reconnecting with long lost friends was certainly the appeal for me. But once infertility barged into my seemingly pleasant life, I started avoiding FB like the plague (although the sadistic side of me managed to drag me back to it too many times). Filled with pregnancy announcements, ultrasound pictures, and the latest "Oh Jr. just said the cutest thing today!" I cursed its dubious inventor.

What enraged me most was being surrounded by people who were over-sharing the lamest details of their lives, while I, who was actually experiencing something real, could not complete the "What's on your mind?" box honestly. I knew that if I did, it would either lead my so-called friends to stage an intervention or wonder if I had Tourettes. During those day, you had the option to "Dislike" something (Why did that ever go away?) and my little arrow had brushed over it many times. I knew I would probably get chastised for "disliking" an ultrasound picture, so instead, I would get online and within minutes have the support of countless people about the evils of Facebook.

Facebook seems to know so much about us and the various life stages we're experiencing -- "Boost your fertility in 60 seconds," "Go back to school mommies," "The best new sex-toys" (Not that I ever saw that one!) -- and yet, it's incapable of shielding us from the types of updates that would make us want to throw something at our beloved computers.

For all the filtering and customizing available, why can't we have a "Hide" button for that kind of news? And I don't know about you, but it seemed that other peoples' "baby news" always came at the worst possible time -- a "Sorry, not pregnant again. You looser" day, a "This cycle isn't going to work" mood day or a "My husband hates my guts for forcing him to have sex with me today" day.

I don't have hundreds of friends -- I never understand people who "friend" someone they've just met -- so during my pregnancy and my son's first year, I tried to stay away from anything that might hurt those I knew were coping with IF. Today, they are all either pregnant, expecting or parents. But every time I do post something, I take a second to remember how lucky I am that I can go on Facebook and not completely regret it.

UPDATE: Is the Washington Post reading my blog? I think so. I'm flattered, really.


Marci said...

I've hid people for months at a time while they went through pregnancies. In many cases, they were close enough that I told them I was doing it and why, and in some cases, I just did it silently.

Sometimes it's okay to say, "This time, my needs come first." and my need to not see those things was stronger far outweighed any need they might have had for me to see it. They can get love and approbation from the fertiles!

(of course that still doesn't help the RANDOM self-congratulatory meme crap about how awesome mothers/daughters/sons/children are "AND REPOST THIS IF YOU ARE THE MOTHER OF AN AWESOME KID."
I try not to do those even when they fit me, like, an AMAZINGLY supportive husband, because I know there are people on my flist who are mourning the loss or lack of one and it is just as hurtful to them to see that as it is to me to see how important mothers think they are.

daega99 said...

I find being pg after IF interesting on FB. I generally don't say anything about the pg which has led to quite a few questions from my friends as to why I won't give them a regular update. Many times I want to say 'because I don't want to make others go through hell like I did when I read your updates'. I have been relenting a little in these final weeks but I am still really sensitive about that type of sharing...


Augusta said...

My friend says of facebook that it is the shallow end of the pool. I like to remind myself of that after about the 7th time I've visited in the same day. And ya, whatever happened to the dislike button?
Anywho, it is a neat social network, but at the same time, it's so hard on the infertiles (such as me). Just this week, a kid (now a young woman) I had at camp posted her u/s picture. I knew her when she was a kid. And now she's having a kid. And I'm not :(
Thanks for your post.
Happy ICLW

unaffected said...

I'm just glad no one can see my face when I'm clicking the "like" button on newborn and u/s photos, or announcements that so-and-so is expecting their thirtieth child. My face is usually the opposite of like ;/

missohkay said...

When I "came out" on National Pregnancy Loss day last week, I was surprised when a few people who have had really obnoxious pregnancy/baby updates commented on my post that they had really close friends who'd experienced losses too. I thought that would have made them more sensitive!

lady pumpkin said...

I'm definitely on FB a lot less than I used to be. Part of it is due to being busier at work, but also I'd rather spend more of my online connecting time in a community where I feel that the IF aspect of my life is understood, not taunted. Happy ICLW!

lady pumpkin said...

I'm definitely on FB a lot less than I used to be. Part of it is due to being busier at work, but also I'd rather spend more of my online connecting time in a community where I feel that the IF aspect of my life is understood, not taunted. Happy ICLW!

car said...

Despite is being a source of major torture, I can't stop checking FB. I have had to hide nearly all the "friends" who have had babies since my loss because they are all busy posting cute baby pictures. I feel so awful for every insensitive post I ever made now that I am on the "other side" and if I ever manage to get pregnant again, I hope I can remember that.

(Stopping by for ICLW)

My Infertile Confessions said...

Another reason I hate Facebook while I'm dealing with IF... I turn it on and I'm bombarded with my friends growing Belly shots, Ultra sound pics, etc. I have now hade to hit the "HIDE" button on them. It is a much better experiance now :)

Rachael Lynn said...

For me FB is like a train wreck that I can't stop looking at for hours at my desk! I am probably one of the most nosey people you will ever meet and I love to stay in the gossip loop! You are right though, it is so frustrating to see fat bellies and ultra sounds. Don't these people have decency? To me that such a personal thing, the bare stomachs and pictures of your uterus. I understand they are proud and excited, as I will be, but I will only show those to people who are actually interested.

Krissi said...

I agree that Facebook can be so in your face if you let it. I joined it after having my first daughter (through IVF) so it never really affected me that way. I suppose I should try to watch what I write but most, if not all my FB friends have children. And, well I do really enjoy writing about my kids because they are my whole world and I love to share that. Happy ICLW! (#72 & 106)

Laurie said...

I've been lucky enough to get pregnant rather quickly despite my PCOS but I have not "come out" on Facebook and announced it. I have one photo album up with baby-related pics but it's set so that only a handful of my out of town family and friends can look at it. Any profile pics I put up have the belly cropped out.
I know now that there are a ton of people out there dealing with infertility and I'd rather not shove my news in people's faces. Not to mention that the whole experience has been incredibly personal for me and I don't want people intruding and putting their two cents in!

Happy ICLW!

Nico said...

Did you see Julie's post at A Little Pregnant? Facebook 90210!

Lenĉjo said...

My wife really gets depressed when another of our friends gets pregnant, especially the just-divorced (really young) one. We've been married 8 years and I have no sperm. I just found out that Harvard Medical/Mass. General are looking for people like me to experiment on, over a 2-year period...makes me want to move there, since insurance doesn't do pre-existing conditions and we have not been able to afford adoption or treatment. My syndrome seems to be rarer than I thought: one in 86,000 now, if I read the statistic right. People usually assume my wife is the one who is infertile. It is emotionally painful, even though I have not actually "lost" a baby.

Anonymous said...

This is why I quit Facebook altogether. I have to make up other excuses why I quit to my friends because if I told them the real reason it would be either a big pity-party or behind-my-back jabs about how selfish I am.

Anonymous said...

this was very interesting to read. i have not had a child nor lost a child. my partner (a woman) is infertile due to cancer treatments. i'm only hoping i will be able to get pregnant and am worried about it for several reasons. i was one of those peer-pressured into facebook. i find all kinds of things offensive on FB, the least of which is the googley-googley boo-boo FB posts.

i decided that if people can post gooey pregnancy and baby stuff (and, hey, it's their life) or espouse hateful selfish conservative rhetoric, then you can post how you really feel or i can post how just i think the world should be--with food, shelter, and health care for all. everything is offensive to somebody, but we can't wash it all out. we can only be true to ourselves. and, facebook is "the shallow end".

i have successfully "hidden" some "friends". nevertheless, there are times when we all see things on others' pages that we are jealous/angry about. ("i always lose when i compare others' outsides to my insides.")

hugs to all. here's to having more love in the world.

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