Hi, my name is Dani, and I have been a facebook addict for about ten years. I don’t want to give it up just yet, but we have been having a love-hate relationship recently. Let me explain the good, bad and ugly of facebook to you.
On Thursday’s egg retrieval we did something very random and spontaneous. After Chris put his ‘egg packing uniform’ on, the nurse asked if we would like a photo of us together. After the nurse snapped a few of us posing together and left chuckling at us (in a nice way), I asked Chris to strike a pose for me in his beautiful attire. (I posted pictures of him posing yesterday) I laughed about putting it on facebook. He said, go on then! I wasn’t quite sure if he really meant it. I pointed out that people would ask why he was wearing it. How would you respond to that?
Chris has been quite adamant in the past that he does not want to post anything on facebook about our infertility, he doesn’t want to share it with the world, and I respect him for that. The only time I have posted something on facebook was when he gave me my first injection on Valentines day. The post was vague enough that only one or two people asked us questions about it. I also shared an article about infertility awareness week, I had only one question about that one.
So I sat there with the photo of the two of us in our surgery attire that the nurse had taken and pondered what to write along with it. I crafted something positive, short and to the point. And then I cried. I was about to chicken out of it, but then a thought popped into my head, what the heck – why should we have to hide this big life event? So I pressed ‘Post‘. 20 seconds later my phone vibrated, and again, and again, and again. I was nervous to look at it. What type of comments would I get? Would people just press like and be too afraid to comment? I was starting to feel sick to my stomach. Here is what I posted:
After the transfer procedure was completed, Chris then posted a picture of our embryos from his own facebook account “Apparently babies come from raspberries”:
Our first post received 232 likes and 73 comments wishing us love and luck. My phone did not stop buzzing all day yesterday. And then came the personal private messages. Statistically speaking, infertility is likely to affect about 20 couples out of this group of people. Of course friends we know who had gone through IVF contacted us either on facebook or privately to wish us luck and offer a hand/advice if ever needed, but then there was some of our friends who we discovered had been silent about their treatment for infertility who messaged us too. We had private messages of inspiration and warm wishes. We were astounded by this response and feel so much love filled in our hearts.
I cannot possibly feel negative for a while after all this support!!!
It is difficult going through infertility when a number of close friends and family are so physically far away. Facebook provides us with the ability to stay connected with them – sure there are other means to do this (Skype, whatsApp, Email etc), but it allows us to deal with the timezone differences and still feel connected. This to me makes facebook a GOOD commodity in helping us build friendships that help carry us through the bad times of infertility.
I can imagine some people reading this will be thinking we are crazy for posting what we did, but it wasn’t something that came naturally, rather it is something that has taken time to learn to be comfortable with. I started to take the stance of not hiding our infertility a few months ago, if moments came up in conversations I would talk about it (awkwardly), and now I feel a lot more comfortable talking about it than I used to, I don’t whisper at work anymore and I may even start a conversation about it. The underlying point is that it has taken time to become comfortable and not ashamed of what we are going through.
By posting what we did before the embryo transfer, we have opened up our hearts to a much wider audience, and if things don’t go well for us it’s going to be hard to deal with so much condolence on our hands. We are now vulnerable. We are also vulnerable to comments and unwelcome advice that drive you mad when you are going through infertility. We can’t filter these comments out from facebook. We shouldn’t just de-friend someone because they made a hurtful comment that they didn’t realise they were making. But we can de-friend people who turn out to just not be real friends or purposefully spite us with hurtful comments, at least we can block them from that part of our lives. Fortunately, I have never experienced anything spiteful, malicious or hurtful regarding our infertility.
The other thing about facebook that is just plain BAD are the pregnancy announcements and baby photos that plaster your newsfeed. For some people suffering from infertility, this should probably be in the UGLY section. But I actually don’t mind pregnancy announcements, especially if they are close friends. I do get a little bit tetchy when ultrasound photos are incessant, but you know what I can do? I can edit the facebook options so that I don’t see their posts unless I want to or choose to go to their facebook page when I am feeling good to see what they have been up to.
For me, the ugliest thing about facebook are those targeted ADVERTS. Pregnancy, baby clothes, mom sites, nappies….aghhhhhhhhhh JUST GO AWAY!!!! I can cope with a pregnancy announcement any day over this crap. You know what also gets my goat? THE WORST. Targeted adverts about infertility. Clearly I browse infertility websites, so why does any infertility website think it is OK to use targeted advertising about infertility to appear on my facebook feed? Do their marketing people know anything about infertility?????????? Do people with cancer get adverts about cancer? Do they want to see adverts about cancer, just as they have gone in to remission? I guess it is an individual’s perspective about whether this type of advertising is useful or not. For me, this is just UGLY.
I wonder a lot about the algorithms facebook use to determine if an ad should be placed on my page. They use data from your profile, such as location, age, gender, interests, connections, relationship status, languages, education and workplaces. That is all pretty basic information. However, there is more personal information that facebook uses such as your listed likes and interests, pages you like, apps you use and other timeline content that you have provided. I decided to see what kind of information advertisers need to provide to facebook, and it is indeed seemingly innocent. Here is what I found:
The interest “infertility” is possible to target an audience to, these are people who have liked content relating to terms such as PCOS infertility (audience 246,280), unexplained infertility (205, 540) or male factor infertility (31,960) or even resolve (22,850). ( By the way, I found the potential audience numbers really interesting – note how low male factor infertility is? )
Fortunately, I was educated a couple of days ago how to stop this from happening on your facebook page. Nara from the Zero to Zygote blog recently posted how to stop adverts (in fact any type of advert) that you do not like appearing on your facebook feed. You can check out her handy guide here. I am so grateful to her for this post, as soon as I read it I immediately went ahead and clicked on a stupid pregnancy ad I have been receiving over the last few days and changed my setting to block ads like that.
The second question is whether facebook uses data other than what is found on your profile and your actions on facebook, for example when you visit infertility blogs, forums and IVF clinic pages? The answer is yes, like many other websites, cookies and trackers are used to directly target the ads you see on your facebook page. Some people may call this spying, marketers would call this targeting. You may think that you can just turn off cookies and trackers in your browser, it’s easy to do, but facebook will not let you use certain features if you do this. However, you can limit it by following the instructions here: http://gizmodo.com/how-to-stop-facebook-from-sharing-your-browsing-history-1589918083.
Hopefully, for me now, the UGLY has just gotten a whole brand new makeover (thanks Nara!!!), the BAD has been put on the naughty step for a time out, and facebook has become more of the GOOD that I originally signed up for (thanks Chris!!).
Do you have any good, bad or ugly stories about infertility and facebook to share?