Facebook Fertility Fallout
There is a space on the Internet where you will not ever find baby pictures or ultrasound pictures. That space is this blog. However, I will forewarn readers that today I am going to talk about such pictures. My intent is not to bring up what is a very sore subject for many for no reason… but to increase awareness about this phenomenon I call “Facebook Fertility Fallout”.
If you are struggling with infertility, you may (like so many people I know) find it difficult to be online sometimes due to the ubiquity of baby pictures and ultrasound pictures. The mother (pun intended) of all sites for such pictures seems to be Facebook.
Several times a week, friends contact me because they have just accidentally encountered baby or ultrasound pictures online… usually on Facebook. They send me messages explaining that they are in tears after just accidentally coming across pictures that triggered a reaction for them. While such pictures are found various places online (such as on blogs that have converted from infertility blogs to “mommy blogs”), most of these tearful discoveries seem to occur on Facebook. (To be very clear, it is definitely not my place to even dream of suggesting what a formerly infertile person should do with her blog once she is able to conceive. I only bring this up for context).
Sometimes I feel like my infertile friends need a fallout shelter to protect their minds and hearts from encountering these pictures that leave them in tears.
Now, for those of you reading this who are formerly infertile mothers getting ready to send me hate mail lecturing me that you have experienced infertility yourself and you are posting baby pictures on your Facebook avatar to give “hope” to other infertility patients (i.e. if, hypothetically you have Stage IV endometriosis), please save your energy because I already heard that speech. (By the way, such a picture won’t give hope for getting pregnant to a person who has had a hysterectomy, as one of my infertile friends commented when we were discussing the above “hope” comment that was made to me a few days ago). OK. It’s time for full disclosure. That scenario above was not a hypothetical. I actually had a Stage IV endometriosis patient give me this speech about hope the other day. She apparently felt (mistakenly) that I was judging her. All I know is my infertile friends would be upset by this and I have a right not to have baby pictures on my wall. This woman didn’t seem to understand that just as it’s her right to choose to post such pictures, which she views as a sign of hope for other infertile patients, I have the right to decide what to post on my Facebook wall.
Point of clarification:
Obviously, everyone has the right to post any pictures they want (that are allowable in the terms of service) on Facebook. I would never, ever be so arrogant as to think it is my place to dictate what pictures someone should or shouldn’t post on their walls or Facebook avatars. (The same individual referenced above seemed to mistakenly think that I was suggesting such a thing; I was not).
Again, I have a right to decide what pictures to have posted on my Facebook wall. In other words, I cannot prevent someone from randomly posting a comment on my wall that happens to contain a baby picture in the Facebook avatar. Sure, I can delete the comment from my wall after the fact if I am concerned that it might be a trigger for one of my infertile friends. However, I can’t be sure someone won’t post a comment on my wall with such a picture. Since I can’t monitor my Facebook page 24/7, there is always the chance that someone will unexpectedly leave a well-meaning message on my wall that includes a baby picture avatar.
So, if you have a baby picture avatar and I should happen to choose to exchange direct Facebook messages with you rather than exchange Facebook wall messages… it’s nothing personal. That’s just the way I handle it. If you are not comfortable with my method of attempting to prevent my infertile Facebook friends (of which there are many) from getting upset or even crying, then perhaps it’s best for us not to remain Facebook friends. Feel free to unfriend me if you are uncomfortable with communicating via direct messages.
This “Facebook Fertility Fallout” issue keeps cropping up again and again. In an average week, three women will contact me about being upset over baby and/or ultrasound pictures on Facebook. Essentially, the best I can do is listen to their feelings. Depending on the person, I will often suggest the person take a “vacation from Facebook” if that is an option. For some, their Facebook accounts are used for work purposes as well as personal purposes. They may not have the luxury of avoiding Facebook altogether. For those who can though, a “vacation from Facebook” can be helpful. Many of my friends do this occasionally.
The point I am trying to make is this: if you were not aware that these pictures are so upsetting to so many infertility patients before you read this post (and it’s not just my friends who find them upsetting), I just wanted to talk about this issue and try to make people aware and sensitive to it. That does not mean that I am suggesting you should change the way you use Facebook. How you decide to use Facebook is your business.
At the same time, how I use Facebook is my business. So, once this post is complete I will post it on my wall and anytime I encounter the issue (anytime one of my Facebook friends posts pictures on my wall with babies in the avatar), I will direct message them a link to this post. This post is my way of saying, “please don’t take it personally but I am not comfortable posting baby/ultrasound pictures on my wall”.
Again, I am not asking anyone to change their pictures. Do I hope that this post might discourage people from posting such pictures on my wall that I will delete as soon as I come across them? Yes. Should anyone be offended that I am deleting such pictures if they do get posted on my wall? No. If that offends you and we are connected on Facebook, feel free to unfriend me. It’s not that I don’t want to be friends on Facebook. It’s just that I don’t have time to police my wall 24/7. That is why I am writing this post. It is with the hope that it might discourage people from posting such pictures on my wall.
In addition to baby/ultrasound pictures, there are other triggers for my infertile friends that I would like to mention before wrapping up this post. One of my Facebook friends has Stage IV endometriosis that resulted in removal of her fallopian tubes. A couple of days ago, her own sister posted what my friend dubbed a “mom meme” as her Facebook status:
If one’s own sister thinks nothing of posting memes like this, I’m not sure what to even say to comfort the person. As you may imagine, my friend was devastated to see this Facebook status on her own sister’s wall. I was at a loss for how to even comfort her in this situation. I did the best I could but I really didn’t even know what to say.
In closing, my purpose with this post is to take a moment to bring this subject up. Perhaps someone reading this has never stopped to think how upsetting it can be to be an infertility patient who feels, at times, bombarded with baby/ultrasound pictures. Maybe someone who would have posted a “mom meme” will have a greater awareness of the impact it might be having on a friend or loved one.
I thought National Infertility Awareness Week might be a good time to bring this subject up.
I cannot emphasize enough that I am not trying to tell others how to handle their own Facebook profiles or walls. I am not the “Facebook Fertility Fallout” police. As I touched on earlier in the post, someone got angry with me a few days ago for how I choose to manage the messages (images) on my own Facebook wall. I can manage the messages any way I see fit. If anyone cannot understand my perspective, it’s best for us not to be connected on Facebook.
It just makes me so sad that so many of my friends are afraid to even login to Facebook (where they have support people, loved ones, and friends) for fear they will encounter pictures that leave them in tears.
If this post prevents even one of my friends from breaking down into tears over baby/ultrasound pictures, then it will be worthwhile.
This post was written by Jeanne at http://chronichealing.com. Copyright © Jeanne — chronichealing.com. All rights reserved.
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