My Facebook Newsfeed: A Snapshot of Life on One Page

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I went onto my Facebook newsfeed for the first time in a while today. The first few status updates were pictures of some of my friends newborn babies (there must have been something in the air – there have been seven births in the last few weeks), others were about the news that Michael Gove, the much despised Education Secretary, has been moved to another position in the cabinet (unfortunately, he’s been replaced by a woman who is quite openly against single sex marriage, but I’ll save that rant for later), and some of my teacher friends had expressed their excitement that the academic year ends at the end of this week. There were thanks for birthday messages, pictures of beautiful places they had recently visited and delicious looking food that they had eaten. One of my friends was clearly bored at work and had been sharing snippets of conversations he had been having with drunken customers, another had just bought a new car, another was discussing wedding preparations for her forthcoming wedding later this year and another had posted pictures from her wedding last weekend.

At the bottom, however, was a status from a woman, K, that I have known for almost thirty years. It included this:

“Today, I have Grade 3 breast cancer and I will begin six months chemotherapy when I return from my holiday next week… I don’t need support now but will need lots of Facebook entertainment during chemotherapy sessions. I strongly look forward to kicking cancer’s ass and coming back to raise money for the cure.”

I had to read and re-read the statement several times before it actually sank in. K is 30 years old. She was in the year below me and we were friends throughout primary and secondary school. As we both played musical instruments we also saw each other several times a week in the evenings for orchestras and bands and as we got older we would go out together. I remember when she met D, a trombone player in the same ensembles, who later became her husband. After I moved to Birmingham, we lost contact, but got back in touch through Facebook in 2007, and over the years I’ve seen her and D have three beautiful daughters. She has always been immensely popular, possessing a personality that makes somebody naturally warm to her – and has an enormous network of family and friends. K is a young, vivacious and successful family woman and I’m absolutely devastated for her and the fight that she has ahead.

Life can be so cruel.

However, K is a fighter, she always has been, and I know that she will come back from her holiday ready to kick cancer’s ass, and she’ll do so with the support of her family and the hundreds of friends that love and care for her, myself included.

I always marvel at the ability that Facebook has to show all the ups and downs that life can throw at us on just one page…

38 thoughts on “My Facebook Newsfeed: A Snapshot of Life on One Page

  1. Makes us realize what a crazy ride life really is, and that you never know what’s around the corner, and to not sweat the small stuff. Keep us posted and she’s in my thoughts as she kicks cancers arse!!!!!

  2. Wow, I never thought of Facebook that way. Sometimes it can make me a bit cynical as half of the posts seem frivolous and inane. But you’re right, it’s a great snapshot of so many of the moments that make up a life.

  3. Good luck for K. But I got that feeling, too, that she is a fighter, about to kick her cancer in the a… This is the best way to tackle this disease, our subconsciousness can bring about a lot.

  4. First and foremost, I am sincerely sorry to hear about your friend. She will be included in our prayers tonight, and throughout the remainder of her battle. I’m also sorry to hear that you had to find out about it through Facebook. I can’t help it. When I see a post about Facebook, I have to respond. I was guilty of having a Facebook account. Then one day my sister (who I’m not close with at all) confessed that she used her sons account to stalk me and see what was going on in my life. THAT’S how you show someone you care? By admitting you stalk them on Facebook? I deactivated my account over a month ago and 3 of my supposed “97” friends have kept in touch. Awesome. My brother and sister in law live a mile away. She’s one of those “Post every single thing I do, everyday” users. I know what they all had to eat for the day, I know what all her co-workers are gossiping about, there is no privacy! Nothing’s sacred! Everything is announced for the world to see. What ever happened to phone calls and lunch dates? Facebook is ruining us. I hope I live long enough to see it completely shut down. What started out as a college experiment has ruined the lives of so many people. Do you honestly believe that Mark Zuckerburgh or whatever his name is (the creator of FB) really cares about the lives FB is destroying? Nope. It’s all about greed and money. The more people sign up, the more money he makes. I wish I could single handedly bring down the website. But it’s just wishful thinking I guess. I get that it’s a very convenient way to keep in touch with our friends, but some people spend their entire days surfing their news feed, with their faces glued to a screen, reading instead of spending quality time with loved ones. It’s just all around sad. I’d highly recommend going to You Tube and searching the video Look Up. VERY POWERFUL video. Lots of luck to you and, again, to your friend. If she’s determined, she’ll fight and she will kick ass.
    ~Kate

      • That’s what I originally started out doing, but something I posted was misinterpreted, causing a huge rift in my family. Maybe I’m so bitter about FB because of that, but regardless, it’s a complete waste of time and causes more trouble than it does good. I initially started to keep in touch with my girlfriend who lives far away and is moving often (she’s an ARMY wife). I have since decided that because she’s so important to me, I’m going to call her more and Skype, rather than keep in touch via an occasional FB post. I wish everyone could see this side of FB…

    • I see what you’re saying, and I don’t imply any altruism into FB. But not everyone is like that. Yeah I have a couple of friends who post what they had for breakfast and where they walked on the way to work and endless religious quotes or motivationals. But that’s them, it doesn’t hurt me that they do that, I don’t have to. I actually have very few FB friends that I live near , maybe 3 out of 100 or so. I’ve lived on 3 continents and I came from a small city so many of my dearest friends live far away. With kids, jobs and time zones I wouldn’t keep in touch but for FB and that would be sad. I love seeing that my friends in NY ran a marathon, their kids’ birthdays, my European friends’ photos and family posts, my Oceania friends’ political rants and updates. These aren’t people I see, or could see, often. They’re people whose lives I get insight into and share with because of genuine love and this is easier than emailing them individually (which I couldn’t do often enough). I joined FB when I felt isolated with a newborn on a foreign continent. It became my virtual mothers group, one comprised of mothers who were my oldest friends and who I wish I was near. I made some close friends in real life nearby, but it’s not te same as old friends. Now I live far from there those “new friends” I keep in touch with by email and FB too.

      Cancer is cruel, I hope she beats it!

      • I didn’t mean that you were a bad person because you had a FB account. I completely understand what you’re saying. The ONLY reason I created a FB account was to keep in touch with my best friend who’s an ARMY wife, and constantly moving…farther away. It has since been of complete destruction because things posted have been misinterpreted, and instead of communicating, people choose to disown you. I started an account with purely the best of intentions. However, because of toxic people who love drama and to start fights, it has caused more trouble for me than it has done good. Yes, I was able to keep in touch with my girlfriend and watch her 5 kids grow up, but my account was hacked, very personal info was put out for public display. I’m a better person because I deleted my account. That doesn’t apply to everyone. Please don’t think I am judging anyone with a FB account. I’m judging FB itself. I wish those people who post every hour on the hour and put their most sacred moments on public display could see how much time they are wasting, and that what was once sacred isn’t so much anymore because everyone knows about it now.

        Yes, cancer IS cruel, and from your description of her, cancer doesn’t stand a chance.

      • Oh I wasn’t taking offence. I’m lucky I don’t know toxic folks like that. I’ve had no FB drama ever. And people who are oversharey? They probably would IRL anyway. Each to their own. Maybe it’s a waste and maybe it enhances the moment for them.

        It’s like the people who photo and film an entertainment event they attend. Artists complain they’re filming not enjoying. Maybe. Or maybe that’s their way of enjoying. It’s a bit Charles Ryder and not for everyone (in Brisdeshead Revisited he sees life as a play). But it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re compromised. I just ignore the breakfast photos and game scores and feel blessed to share my friends lives in whatever window they give. If you really know people you can see when they are hurt even if they post a smile.

        Another positive for me is the selectiveness. I get it’s called fakebook. But I don’t lie nor do my friends. Yeah I post about our holiday and not about how the kids all had head lice over the break. But is that lying? Looking back at my page I see the things I want to remember. If anything it makes me see things in a better, more positive perspective.

        Hacking totally sucks. I’ve been lucky.

  5. My thoughts are with your friend – a positive attitude is incredibly important and it sounds like she has this in spades. Wish I had your discipline to stay away from Facebook for that long Suzie!

    • Thanks Aidan! I think I’ve just become really bored of it – I used to be obsessed and now I’m rarely on the at all! I think once you’ve seen a few facebook status’s you’ve seen them all really… Until ones like today show up…

  6. What a positive post about the connections we maintain via FB. A refreshing look at this social media monster who we try not to play too much with and yet love like a muppet. I share healing thoughts for your friend and thank you for your well balanced view. I am off to check my newsfeed.

  7. As the husband of a breast cancer survivor who received her diagnosis in her thirties my heart broke to hear about your friends diagnosis. My heart broke not just for her, but for her family. Give her and her family all the support you can through Facebook or any other means. It is a very beatable form of cancer when diagnosed early enough, but for a period of time it will be devastating and life changing for your friend and her family. There will be physical scars that will heal, but there will be emotional scars that may not.

  8. Life is no respecter of persons, but hearing that she is so upbeat about it (and confident) really helps. A lot of people, I find, have lots of trials and others, when they hear of them, are always so amazed with how that person keeps going. My response is pretty much the same, “Why wouldn’t they/I keep going?” You either keep moving (even when all you want to do is curl up and cry) or you curl up and cry for a bit and then keep moving.

  9. As long as we are sharing I hope I can lend some words of encouragement for your friend….I have had breast cancer two separate times and I want to say, early detection and following a prescribed treatment can save your life. My cancers were 11 years apart so they weren’t re-occurrences of the same cancer. Nooooo, I had to be a little cancer farm!
    I am not being flip or impertinent by joking….you just have to keep rolling with the punches and focus on coming out of it alive.

    One thing I did that I will believe, to the day, saved my life. I made it personal with my doctor. While he was explaining all the many options and treatments I abruptly asked “What would you do if it were your wife or daughter?” and the response was immediate. He immediately said mastectomy because he thought of his family. It saved me.

    For what it’s worth, I deleted FB a few years ago and connect with folks via email or blogs. Very pleased with that. All best wishes for your friend, Suzi.

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