Randall’s condition was growing worse by the day; even at his heaviest, he was not a large man, but the gauntness in his face was beginning to alienate so-called friends that hadn’t seen him in a long time. They would come once to his lonely little room, and never again.
Randall usually called them train-wreckers when he would laugh about them with his dog Valentine, his only constant companion, but sometimes he would grow silent after a visit, and not speak for days, lost in his depression.
At these times, Valentine would crawl into the bed with Randall to press his warm body into the man’s bony side. Eventually, Randall would come around, and apologize profusely to Valentine, feeding him special treats and pouring sparkling water into his bowl.
One night, he opened up his laptop and went to his Facebook page, scrolling past the dozens of hopes and prayers and wishes. He started to type out a status over a dozen times, but never finished enough to post it. He closed the laptop and laughed, startling Valentine.
“It’s my own fault that those train-wreckers come visit, Val,” he laughed. “I’ve got to stop telling the world that I’m sick. No one ever bothered me when they thought I was well.”
Randall opened his laptop back up and quickly pecked out a short message and shared it for everyone to read as they wished. He turned the computer off and snuggled into his pillow, more at ease with the state of his life than he’d been in a long time.
His soft snores drew Valentine’s attention again, and the dog scrambled up to join his master in the bed.
He woke to seventy-four notifications on his phone and more prayers than ever, thanks to his one-word status: cured.
Caroline smiled approvingly down at the scale, happy to whittle down her waistline like the tortoise, not the hare. She stepped off and grabbed her toothbrush to fill it with minty freshness from a tube. Teeth properly cleaned, she washed her hands and put her contacts in. She blinked her eyes rapidly, making sure everything was in place, and cinched her bathrobe belt around her waist before heading for the kitchen.
With the kids gone, and Kenneth long since kicked to the curb, Caroline loved a good peaceful cup of coffee while catching up on her Facebook feed. She drank her Folgers black, and with the cup steaming like a house afire, she carted her laptop out to the back patio to take in the sunrise.
She chuckled at cat videos while sipping her morning joe,and suddenly remembered her desperate need for corn tortillas. She pulled her ever-present notepad and pencil from her bathrobe pocket and flipped to a fresh page. The pencil felt a bit odd in her hand, so she held it up like a pistol, and she sighted down the barrel. It looked fine. She shrugged and precisely printed corn tortillas on the first line.
Nothing was groundbreakingly new in Facebookland, so Caroline gently closed her laptop and leaned back in her chair, crossing her left leg over her right. She held her mug with both hands and took a long sip of her now-cooled coffee, letting the steam bathe her pores. The clouds in the sky blocked her view of the sunrise, so she sighed and tucked her notebook back into her pocket as she rose to go inside and dress for the day.
TBP OLWG #27 15 minutes, I choose 17.
The worst thing about Facebook is that you have to know someone’s name to find them. I’d love to look up so many people from my childhood, but I only remember a first name, if anything. and since I’m a girl, most of my childhood friends were girls, so even if I remembered their last names, they’d probably have changed a couple times by now.
I didn’t go to a school with a yearbook until sixth grade. I got that one, and all of them afterwards, but that still leaves six years of schooling and friends and neighbors that I can’t account for.
When I was three and four, and again when I was six through eight, we lived on a country road that, as far as I know, didn’t have a real name, just Route 2. I should ask my parents; my father still owned the land we’d lived on for several years after we moved away.
The first friend I remember was Aaron, a much older boy who lived across the street. I actually do remember his last name, because my mother said it often enough when talking about his mother, her friend. But there’s no finding him on Facebook. Too common a name.
Then there was Dionne. She lived down the street. I don’t know how we got so lucky as to be the only two girls for miles and the same age, but we did. I couldn’t even guess her last name.
And there was Amber from Girl Scouts. She had blonde hair and she was taller than I was when we were six. I didn’t make it past Brownie, so I’m not sure how long she was a Scout.
I can’t find them to reconnect after thirty years. And it seems crazy to me that people younger than I am can find friends they had when they were six years old. It brings back the feelings of being an outsider that I had in high school, when everyone else had known each other since kindergarten, and there I was starting towards the end of tenth grade.
But at least I’m friends with most of them.
And I did find my friend Sara Johnson. Do you know how many Sara Johnsons there are on Facebook? A lot. Fortunately her parents still had the same phone number that they did in 1987.
By now, so many people have made their initial feelings about the Facebook breast cancer ‘awareness’ meme clear, whether they be shock, anger, disgust, distaste, indifference, or support. This first wave of outcry is turning more and more from proactive discussion into nitpicking comment wars. Lucky for me, I haven’t had any negative comments (yet), for which I am thankful. I know I have a new blog with few readers, but I do have a voice for my opinion, just like everyone else.
A few specifics bother me about the comments criticizing those of us who are unhappy with this meme. If anyone could explain how my thinking is wrong on these items I’d greatly appreciate it.
Secrets don’t raise awareness
I just don’t get how the big mystery is supposed to raise awareness. One of the points in the message is ‘keep em guessing.’ How, exactly, is that supposed to help anything? Wouldn’t it be simpler, easier, and more effective to ask people to post this link, or maybe this link?
It raises money for breast cancer.
No, it doesn’t. There’s not even any information given for someone to donate to. Don’t even start with the ‘Facebook is donating for every status like this.’
It’s supposed to be fun.
Breast cancer isn’t fun. Cancer isn’t fun. Infertility isn’t fun. Being made a fool of isn’t fun. I would much rather have my mother, or sister, or daughter, or father, or brother, or husband around for another few years because they understood the importance of early detection, which is knowledge they sure didn’t get from hearing about your craving.
So I’m not allowed to post about my pregnancy because it might ‘offend’ someone?
This is not about pregnancy at all. This is about fake pregnancy. This is about deception. This is about attention-seeking. This is about lying to your friends and family. Not cool.
Lighten up, it’s not about you.
Actually, it is. Fighting infertility can consume someone’s entire life. The most innocent thing can ruin an entire day. This may not be deliberately malicious, but it’s not innocent. And it’s not just one person. Google tells me the average user has 120-130 Facebook friends. So odds are, the average user has 12-16 friends suffering from infertility. Who knows how many of your friends are upset by this because trying to support someone else through a struggle? So yeah, it is about me, and maybe as many as half of your other friends. That’s not worth a little consideration?
It’s just Facebook.
You’re right. It is just Facebook. So why is it so important to you that I not be upset about your trivialization of my disease? If it’s no big deal, why don’t I have a right to my feelings? Don’t pop on over to twist the knife a little.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Why do so many Facebook users need to co-opt another month of the year to promote awareness of an illness whose movement has gained so much momentum in the past 25 years? They’re not even soliciting donations, let alone increasing awareness. The whole idea of this ‘pretend you’re pregnant’ scheme is tricking people, not helping them realize ‘hey, early detection is key.’
Here’s an idea. Maybe, instead of making everything into some cutesy little joke or changing your profile picture to end child abuse or something useless like that, everyone could instead really reflect on whatever it is they’re supposed to be promoting. Instead of posting a nice little status update like ‘teehee, I’m 6 weeks and craving Oreos!’ we could try something like ‘I care about the women in my life and hope they all understand how important it is to everyone who loves them that they perform monthly breast self-exams and receive annual clinical breast exams.’ Instead of changing a profile picture, which is supposed to somehow miraculously end child abuse, we could pick up the phone and call the cops when our neighbor’s child has mysterious bruises and broken bones.
Maybe if everyone chose to openly state their intentions or act on their beliefs, we wouldn’t even have to have awareness months or weeks for anything, because those of us who care, those of us who are personally vested in these movements, don’t wait for a special day.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but I’m pretty sure breast cancer patients and survivors and their families think about it more often than a twelfth of the year.
September is National PCOS Awareness Month, but I definitely think and talk about it the rest of the year.
Does having a whole month for awareness really do any good overall? Doesn’t it just encourage people to speak up when it’s that time of year, so they can relax, believing they’ve done their part, for the other eleven months? Doesn’t the overwhelming publicity during that one month just lull people into believing that the problem is being taken care of? What do you think?