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Social Media Helps Separate the Compassionate from the Assholes

I’m sure it wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s intention when he invented Facebook to create a medium that reveals our true personalities despite what we attempt to carefully cultivate online and in the face-to-face world.  For instance, there are people who would describe themselves as a good person, go to church, participate in that canned food drive, make an appropriate unhappy face emoticon at their friend’s bad news.  And then they read something on a social media site — perhaps a blog or Twitter or Facebook or the comment section of the New York Times (possibly my favourite spot online to see people’s true nature) — and we get to see what really lurks beneath the exterior.  Sometimes it is just more of what we see on the surface.  Sometimes we get to see the person’s inner asshole.

I was nervous to hit publish on that last post for many reasons, but the reaction has pretty much gone as I suspected it would.  The vast majority of people who read it and commented internalized my words and reflected back that they understood them.  Many have had a similar experience to my own with infertility, and they agreed that the meme made them feel the same way.  Some have had a similar experience with infertility and knew it was a game so didn’t feel the same way, though they could see how it would be hurtful if you didn’t understand what you were reading.  A few people weren’t infertile at all but said they either felt the same way or had participated and now felt apologetic.  And then there were a handful of people who — due to the social media machine laying our true essence bare — trotted out their inner asshole and told everyone who was upset that they were “absolutely ridiculous” and should “get a life.”

Disagreeing with me isn’t what makes you an asshole.  People disagree with me all the time, in the face-to-face world or on this blog.  It’s the way you disagreed, belittling as you explained why people aren’t allowed to feel what they are feeling that makes you an asshole.


If we could boil down my entire post into a few lines, I’d say it like this:

I am really happy for friends when they are truly pregnant even though I am simultaneously feeling sad for myself.  At the same time, I saw this Facebook meme, and while the intention was not to be malicious, this is how I processed the game.  As you can see, because possibly 10% of your Facebook friends have experienced infertility whether or not you know it, you may be unintentionally hurting other people.  Here are some things you can do to raise awareness for a cause if you’re itching to raise awareness for a cause, as I am told was the original intention for this meme.

The only correct response to someone telling you that something you did made them feel like shit is “I am so sorry that you felt that way.”  This is true every time someone tells you in life that something you did hurt their feelings.  If you agree that you actually did something wrong, you can apologize for the actions too, but really, only an asshole hears that someone is upset and counters it with “get a life.”  A person can offer a reason for why they participated, and it’s helpful for the person who was hurt to understand why the action was undertaken.  But the reality is that telling people to “get over your selves and do something positive instead of trying to bring down other peoples fun” doesn’t make you right — it just makes you an asshole.

I’ve said this before but some of the comments made me feel like it bears repeating: humans seem to be able to comprehend that someone else’s sadness cannot make them feel sad.  You can learn on your wedding day that a tsunami has devastated a tiny island population in the Pacific, thousands of miles away.  While you will hopefully pause for a moment and reflect on the terribleness of it and perhaps decide to donate some of your monetary wedding gifts to relief efforts, unless you are directly affected, your wedding will continue on.   You will be a radiant bride walking down the aisle.  You will eat cake and you will dance.  And that doesn’t make you an asshole — that makes you a human being.  We all navigate our own daily mood against the happiness and sadness of others.

Human beings are complex, and we are capable of feeling two completely different emotions at the same time.  We can acknowledge someone else’s pain while still experiencing our own joy and vice versa.  We can acknowledge someone else’s joy while still experiencing our own pain.  The reality is that life always needs to continue; it doesn’t stop for our sadness or our elation.  We experience a loss and we’re expected after a brief amount of time to jump back into living just as we experience a life-changing, happy occasion such as a wedding and we’re expected back to our daily obligations after the honeymoon.

We are constantly thrust back into the real world without really having the luxury of time to deal with our complex emotions.  We need to constantly carry our feelings with us.  Hence how you get someone infertile having to deal with their sadness while simultaneously experiencing happiness for another person.  In a perfect world, we’d have the space to place our emotions in tiny compartments.  But we live in a wonderfully messy world; one where terrible things happen at the exact same time as great things.  And you need to deal with both.  And that is what infertile people who are struggling with the emotional side of infertility do every single day.  And that is what fertile people who need to deliver pregnancy announcements to emotionally-raw friends do every single day.

But just as my sadness can’t make you sad, your happiness can’t make me feel happy.  I understand that another person’s pregnancy announcement is a happy occasion, and I am happy for them (when it’s a real pregnancy and not a Facebook game).  But certainly, if I can’t expect them to feel sad about their pregnancy just because I’m infertile (and I shouldn’t — that person should feel only joy), why should I be expected to feel only happiness about their pregnancy, squelching any of my own feelings of sadness?  For this equation to work, it needs to be solvable in both directions.  And right now, some commenters expressed a desire for the compassion to only flow in one direction.  I am requesting that the compassion flow in all directions.


I think the most telling part about this campaign is that the meme wasn’t about making up a phony cancer diagnosis to raise awareness.  People weren’t told to post that they had been diagnosed with cancer and had X many weeks of chemotherapy planned.  You know why?  Because we all know that would be cruel to do to the people who love us.  It would evoke strong responses in others, would obviously get people talking, but it would be COMPLETELY inappropriate and thoughtless.

Yet if we know that pretending to be dying would be in poor taste, why would it not be in poor taste to pretend to be creating life?  I guess I’m asking this of the people who support the meme — would you post a phony cancer diagnosis in order to raise awareness by getting people talking?  And if not, why not?


Part of being a compassionate person is doing it even when you get nothing out of it.  Listening, even when you might not get heard.  Being caring, even when there is no friendship or familial relationship on the line.  And some commenters simply weren’t compassionate.  Perhaps that is the bane of social media — we forget that there are very real people on the other end of the computer because we can’t see them in the moment.  So maybe this can serve as a reminder: there are very real people reading our Facebook status updates who react to our news accordingly.  And there is a very real person writing this blog, and anything you wouldn’t say to my face, you shouldn’t say in my comment section.  If you would say some of the things you said in the comment section to my face, well, I think you know by this point in the post what that makes you.

The Veela in Harry Potter looked like ethereally gorgeous women when they were composed.  When their team was losing in the Quidditch World Cup, they revealed their ugly, beaky selves, throwing fire because they felt enraged at being attacked.  And that’s sort of what I saw with that last post — the difference between the two sides of the Veela, which I think exists inside all of us.  It’s always our choice whether we keep projecting our beauty or reveal our ugliness.  I saw that the vast majority of people choose to attempt to keep the world beautiful, to comfort when they see someone hurt, and to own their actions.  But I also saw a handful of assholes respond to that post — a post that was written with a strong emphasis on the “I” vs. the accusatory “You.”  For those who disagree, I’d ask you to highlight the points where I verbally attacked a group of people and email them to me.  I will happily eat my words if you can find a place where I belittled someone in that post.

I know some people posted about this on social media sites — either pointed out how the meme made them feel within a Facebook status update, or blogged about it, or linked to my last post about it on their Facebook page — and I’d like to hear the response you got.  Did you mostly get crickets from your friends and family when they read your Facebook status or saw the link to my post?  Did you get a great conversation going?  Were feelings mended?  Did you see anyone actually attempt to promote some true awareness for breast cancer?

And on the topic of being cruel, if people were taking the term “asshole” in this post to be a negative statement about their personality, I want to tell them that they’re overthinking this and reading too much into it.  I’m just having fun, and I’m actually referring to a body part, implying that you take things in as well as push things out.  I didn’t mean anything terrible by it.  Lighten up!*

Er… or is it only certain people who need to take things less seriously?  Is it different when something is happening to you vs. happening to other people?  So yes, I do apologize for facetiously calling you an asshole to make a point.  I obviously don’t know you, just as you don’t know me, therefore it’s impossible for either of us to make a true judgment about one another.  So I do apologize that I singled you guys out.  My only excuse is that sometimes we need to turn the mirror on the Veela so they can see exactly how they’re affecting the rest of the world.

And frankly, while this post is aimed specifically at the commenters on the last post, it’s what I think I’ll cut-and-paste from now on for a whole host of social media situations — from ridiculous memes on Facebook to the vitriolic comment section of the Huffington Post or the New York Times.

I’ll end with this: people are allowed to own their feelings, admit them and discuss them.  Denying another person’s feelings or belittling them for having them makes you a… well… you know.

* You may want to peruse the comment section on the last post if you don’t understand where this post is coming from.  Though I have a strong feeling that if you have spent any time on the Internet, you know exactly where this post is coming from even if you haven’t read my specific comment section.  I think at some point we’ve all observed the worst of the Internet (while simultaneously also observing its best).


1 meghan { 09.05.11 at 8:05 am }

Like you said, I think it is hard for people to understand the complexities of feeling two conflicting emotions at the same time. Or maybe they never have had to…so they don’t think it’s possible. Either way though, that can not be an excuse for being mean spirited.

I posted a link to another blog about the meme and got support and agreement from exactly the people I thought I would and silence from everyone else. I wasn’t expecting much though.

2 HereWeGoAJen { 09.05.11 at 8:43 am }

I sent your post and Whymommy’s post from last year as a reply all to everyone who got the meme email on Facebook. And I got no response at all. None.

And wow, there were some extremely insensitive comments to the last post. Much love to you, Mel.

3 Abbie { 09.05.11 at 8:56 am }

I linked your post on facebook and I got a lot of people who agreed with me. I had one who originally played the game and then when she read this article, she took down her post and apologized if it made me feel bad. There were a few who linked your post onto their page because they read it from mine. I did not get any negative responses, but it could be that no one wanted to negatively respond, even if they felt different than I felt.

4 shannon { 09.05.11 at 9:02 am }

I linked your last post on my Facebook and the response was mixed: a couple people who whole heartedly agreed, one cousin who said she’d never considered it and was sorry she’d played the game, and one “friend” who said she didn’t feel badly and doesn’t think she should have to consider the feelings of infertiles. Um…perhaps she missed the last 5 1/2 years of my life, or just wasn’t paying attention? I’d been harping that cancer is not a game, never a game, for days, though — so my FB friends may just be tired of hearing me up on my soapbox.

5 Erin { 09.05.11 at 9:12 am }

I actually had a mini-facebook war erupt on my page, which got so ugly that I ended up deleting the whole post. The kind of nastiness that ensued from my attempt at *real* awareness was not something that I wanted associated with either me, personally, or the original topic of breast cancer and infertility awareness. I’m still having a really hard time seeing any other point of view to this FB game. Awareness and advocacy require something actually being done, and I just don’t see how this latest FB game accomplishes either of those goals, or how anybody could actually defend the idea that it does.

6 Katie { 09.05.11 at 9:21 am }

I posted a fb status stating “If you want to raise awareness, try education, not silly fb statuses. Did you know 1 in 8 women are affected by breast cancer?” And included a link to your last post. I had a distant cousin say she had been through the same thing and agreed 100% and another friend (who has 2 children) state how happy she was I posted the link, what a great article it was, and reposted it herself. I had 4 likes to the status. As per usual, the majority of my friends and family were silent over it. I did have a distant family member send me a private message saying she didn’t mean to offend me, she only wanted to raise awareness for breast cancer which her mom and aunt have. To which I responded, I wasn’t offended, just found the whole thing silly and what awareness did she raise by pretending to be pregnant? I haven’t heard back from her yet. You’re absolutely right though, feelings and thoughts are a two way street; however, it appears as though infertiles get a bad wrap when we express ourselves. We must always gush over a pregnancy announcement, attend the baby shower, and ooh and ahh over the new baby, but if we post something related to infertility, we’re immediately labeled bitter. Oh the double standards.

7 Anjali { 09.05.11 at 9:38 am }

Mel, I didn’t get a chance to comment on your last post, so I’m going to comment now. As someone who has never been infertile nor had someone close to me be diagnosed with breast cancer (though we’ve lost many dear friends from other types of cancer), I still feel sick to my stomach and condescended to with these ridiculous FB status campaigns. All of them. I’m so glad you wrote your post, and I applaud you for smacking people with the reality of what these status updates actually do to women.

8 Michaela { 09.05.11 at 9:52 am }


This post is absolutely spot on!

And I think the most important point…as a compassionate, human being…as a non-asshole…when you unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings your ONLY response should be “Wow, I am so sorry I hurt your feelings. It was not my intention at all!”

9 Shelli { 09.05.11 at 9:58 am }

Crickets. Yep, when I reposted your post, not a single comment. Most of my FB friends are friends and family IRL, and this is the point that makes me sad. Throughout my journey in infertility, I have gotten zero support most of the time (except here, on-line). It’s as if no one wants to acknowledge that it’s a real issue. That is…. no one cares until it happens to them.

10 m. { 09.05.11 at 10:28 am }

I love what Erin says here: “Awareness and advocacy require something actually being done”

I’ve gone on the “awareness” rant before, so while I tried to ignore this latest meme, as a survivor and an infertile (directly related), I just couldn’t. I posted on FB and ranted (again) on my blog.

The responses to me on FB moved me to tears and were completely unexpected – in a good way – they were mostly from friends from grade school, people who were kids themselves when I was in the midst of the disease recounting THEIR memories of me and showing their support now. I’m not sure whether any of them had made the cancer/fertility connection until then. But it was clear what mattered to them was that I was HERE. Wow. That was humbling.

Then another very cool thing happened and that was another one of our IF bloggers tweaked my status and it spread a little further. And that was amazing to see.

On my blog, one of the comments pointed out a very real dilemma – the “I did this because someone I love who is a survivor asked me to, so I did and now I kind of regret it but I didn’t want to be disrespectful to her.” So here was my suggestion:

I think its our responsibility to steer things in a more pro-active direction. If some of your friends or colleagues look at your strawberry pop tart post and go “what the hey?!?” I suggest casually dropping a link or two to any local or national charity that you support that treats breast cancer or offers screenings and say something like thanks for asking, this was the intention of the campaign, go here and learn more.

Even better: steer them here http://www.fertilehope.org/ and ask them to make a donation so that women who will deal with breast cancer (or any cancer) in the future, have a fighting chance of preserving their fertility and having the pleasure of posting this post for real.

Which is exactly what several FB statuses have been doing.

I still have no idea where the “craving” idea emerged, but I LOVE that both the IF AND the survivor communities have reclaimed it, cried bullshit, and redirected it in ways that matter.

11 Amanda { 09.05.11 at 10:36 am }

I read yesterday’s post and got very worked up. I didn’t link to your post itself, but I did link to a pcmag.com article about the meme. I said “HOW in the hell is saying you are “12 weeks & craving Twix” going to raise awareness for breast cancer?? It’s insulting to people who struggle with fertility issues, and it’s actually not doing anything except sending your friends into confusion. THINK before you post. If you really want to support finding a cure for breast cancer, donate to a good cause or tell a survivor story and post THAT on your status.”…… I got a very good response. One friend had seen the meme posted on the wall of a friend who had been struggling with infertility. She called said friend crying with joy to congratulate her. Apparently the girl and her husband had been bombarded with calls all day and she felt awful for posting it. because she was not, in fact, pregnant. Another friend, dear to my heart, commented about how she was given 3 months to live in 2006, and through aggressive treatment and modern research is alive and cancer-free 5 years later. Your post spoke to me really strongly yesterday and after I posted, I had several friends come out of the woodwork to thank me for posting it and state that it also made them upset, both for infertiles and people struggling with any kind of cancer.

12 It Is What It Is { 09.05.11 at 10:37 am }

There are two bottom lines here: these silly FB games are easy things to participate in and make the people who do feel like they are “in the know”. I think they would be fine in themselves (as in, let me start a FB status campaign using double entendre just to see if it goes viral) having nothing to do with raising awareness for anything. The premise that a disassociated FB status raises awareness for anything is vapid.
And, secondly, this whole reaction of “lighten up” is so unattuned and immature. I roll my eyes at a lot of things but it takes a whole lot of assholishness to completely dismiss the upset feelings of others just to make oneself feel better. Say nothing if you have nothing to contribute but to say “lighten up” to the upset of someone else makes you an asshole EVERY TIME. You may not want to hold up the mirror to have that reflected back, but even the minimally evolved of our species can see it as plain as that puss on your face.

13 Mina { 09.05.11 at 10:37 am }

Just like I said on St. Elsewhere’s blog, this nonsense meme raises brows, shoulder, questions, but not awareness. I posted the names of the two women in my family who died of breast cancer and the reason for their death. No one bothered to ask or say anything. But I had a male friend posting that he is 50 weeks and craving pork.

It was quite a while since you had trolls in your house, wasn’t it, Mel? I am sorry they came and left dirt behind them. That is what they do.

14 mrs spock { 09.05.11 at 10:58 am }

I linked to your post and actually counted the number of friends I had who were infertile- 56/197- a good 25% of my friends list. No one said anything awful, but the folks who responded were fellow IFers or friends who know our struggle and who were sympathetic. Also, it’s probably hard to post a snarky comment when I immediately linked to my SIL’s breast cancer treatment fund (she is going through chemo and her insurance capped out at $5K, and we have been fundraising like crazy, as these first 6 months were totally uncovered and Medicaid just started covering her Sept 1st). My SIL posted a thank you in my comments, and I suppose it’s hard to say a Big F U to someone whose profile picture shows a beautiful woman with a bald head from chemo.

15 Natalie { 09.05.11 at 11:01 am }

Some people really are horrifying in their reactions, aren’t they. And you are so wholly correct… when someone says, “That really hurt my feelings,” the only correct response is “I’m sorry.” Even if you didn’t mean to. Even if you have no idea why it would bother someone. if I say something that makes someone else feel bad, I feel bad. Doesn’t matter what or why.

I was one of those who immediately suspected another lame FB game when I saw a couple of similar statuses at the same time by people whom I was 99.9% sure were definitely not pregnant. So I didn’t personally feel hurt or upset… but I did feel very annoyed, for all the reasons other people have said. Those games are stupid. They do not raise awareness for anything when the rules and reasons are secret. I’m willing to bet that they are invented NOT by someone trying to raise awareness, but trying to start a silly game. I mean, all those sexual innuendo ones? Please. Someone is having a very good laugh. But people will post almost anything when it comes with the tag of “for cancer awareness!” and furthermore, breast cancer does not need *awareness*. Everyone is damnwell aware of breast cancer. It needs research, and support, and understanding, and prevention…. none of which are gotten by status updates about pregnancy or underwear or purses.

It’s all just very irritating. I’m very tired of reading my facebook full of reposts (of crazy! information! that happens to NOT BE TRUE), passive-aggressive rants and attitude about people not named, and games. I’ve started aggressively blocking people/games/things from my wall so I don’t have to deal with it. I love FB to keep in touch… I hate the nonsense.

16 Julie Anita { 09.05.11 at 11:16 am }

Though I know this blog exists as your private space to vent, discuss and disseminate information, I appreciate that you also do it for a lot of us who have had difficulty finding our voices and being heard. So firstly, thank you for that <3

I probably saw as many people on my feed posting the meme as I did people starting discussions about the meme and why it was that anyone found it cute, funny or appropriate. It had a pretty minor presence, overall, in my list of about 200 FB friends, and half of that was shutting it down rather than celebrating it. FWIW.

17 April { 09.05.11 at 11:41 am }

Crickets. I had a couple of loud chirps, but no one else who was willing to make their own post about it.

18 teri { 09.05.11 at 11:47 am }

I posted a status against this “game” as soon as I heard about it…I’ve been lucky that (so far) I have only received supportive comments.

I have a problem with people using status updates as a way to feel that they are “doing good” – if you want to raise awareness about any cause the number one thing you SHOULDN’T do is be vague! Do something, give something, say something (meaningful)! The IRS won’t allow you to claim donations of Facebook status updates as deductions but they will allow you to claim a $25 donation to the American Cancer Society or RESOLVE.

19 loribeth { 09.05.11 at 12:02 pm }

I love this post (as well as the last one). Especially the part about compassion needing to flow both ways. Why is it I so often feel on the short end of the stick?

20 Tigger { 09.05.11 at 12:16 pm }

I had snagged elphaba’s status of “No, I will not post how many “weeks I am” or “what I am craving” in some misguided attempt to raise awareness for breast cancer. Pretending you are pregnant isn’t funny or cute (nor does it raise awareness)–certainly not to your friend who just suffered a miscarriage or is living with infertility. And with 25% of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage and infertility affecting 1 in 6 couples, I can assure you, someone on your Facebook has/is experiencing one of these things.”

I received 10 comments, 9 likes, and they were all supportive and thanked me for standing up. I mentioned that I would catch flak, but oddly enough (not!) I received no flak. I think most of my friends and family know by this point that if they were to try and give me hell for this, I’d give them hell right back. I have a temper and am not afraid to use it…sometimes…in public… Ok, so I have to have a very good reason in public, but still! The threat is there! Or something…

Anyhow, I had one friend who also snagged the status from me and post it. She got 8 likes and 6 comments, all positive…including someone who hadn’t thought about the IF link and said she was enlightened.

For those reading these comments, if you made a blog post about the meme, please let me know. I am taking a page from Mel’s book and trying to “round up” all of them on my own blog. Leave me a comment on my own blog or email me tigger62077 at gmail dot com!

21 Jo { 09.05.11 at 12:31 pm }

Mel, were you going to mention the “assholes” on your end? I am not infertile but I often cheer on a lot of you ladies from the sidelines, and I can say with total and complete honesty, you guys can say some pretty cruel things about us “fertiles”. Do you notice it or is it an “us” against “them” attitude that makes you ignore it? How many said people who posted the memes were “idiots” among other not so nice words . Rudeness is universal and nothing gives you a pass. I didn’t comment in the other post but I cant help but feel a “don’t dish it if you cant take it” mentality. The “assholes” were on both ends.

22 Lollipopgoldstein { 09.05.11 at 12:36 pm }

I absolutely can take it, and even welcomed it in this post if you see above. Please highlight MY words and repeat them back to me, the ones where I attacked a person in that last post or made commentary on THEM vs. how I felt. If you can find those words, I’ll certainly eat them.

Being infertile certainly doesn’t make a person polite and rudeness flows from this community outward. There are assholes everywhere you look, but I am addressing specifically my experience with that meme (in that last post) and my experience with commenters in this post.

So, no, I wasn’t going to mention other assholes since that would be off-topic. And this post is long enough without going off-topic. At the same time, if you have a problem with certain people, I think YOU should write a blog post about it. Not attacking a person, but instead, trying to evoke positive change by discussing the emotional impact of actions.

23 Jo { 09.05.11 at 12:50 pm }

Go back and read the other comments, to say the rudeness didn’t come from both ends, to me says you are simply ignoring it. If you still don’t see it, please let me know so I can grab the comments and point them out to you. I am in no way trying to be rude, NOT AT ALL, this is a comment from a different perspective, you say you welcome them right? I am saying maybe that person got rude because she got tired of being called dumb, ignorant, insensitive ect . Again the hurtful comments come from both sides and they need to stop from both sides.

24 Jo { 09.05.11 at 12:57 pm }

Ok I didnt see shelbys comment until just now, that one was pretty uncalled for but I still stand by my statement!

25 Lollipopgoldstein { 09.05.11 at 12:58 pm }

But I did say that the rudeness comes from both ends. In fact, I’ll quote myself: “Being infertile certainly doesn’t make a person polite and rudeness flows from this community outward. There are assholes everywhere you look, but I am addressing specifically my experience with that meme (in that last post) and my experience with commenters in this post.”

Again, in order for me to continue discussing this with you, I need an example of MY words (since the comment box is usually used to address the post at hand and all of my rude comments did initially address my post) attacking another person. If you can provide that, I will happily keep up this conversation. And I’ll apologize.

26 theportofindecision { 09.05.11 at 1:07 pm }

This is so fantastically well-written and applicable to so much more than just your particular post and this particular meme. This is a pretty damn good guide to decent online behavior, period. Well done, Mel.

27 Justine { 09.05.11 at 1:29 pm }

Thanks for letting this be a space for discussion, Mel.

I wanted to let you know that I posted responses to several people participating in the meme, calling attention to how it might affect people (not accusing them of offending me personally, but just asking them to consider how it might make people feel), and the posts were removed and apologies issued … AND links to breast cancer sites posted in their place! SO: much appreciated. 🙂

28 Jo { 09.05.11 at 1:34 pm }

Mel, I am not talking about any rudeness that came out of your mouth (fingers?), I apologize if it came off that way, I actually don’t recall saying YOU said anything, I said “your end”. I said “you guys” but never “Mel YOU said…yada yada yada”. In this post you were speaking about hurtful comments. Correct me if I’m wrong, my comment on this post was pointing out that the hurtfulness comes out of both ends, something you do acknowledge( thank you for that). You said “I am addressing specifically my experience with that meme (in that last post) and my experience with commenters in this post” Which you did,but it seemed to me, you were quite biased on your views. Are the “assholes” on both ends or are they not? To me, it seems you are quick to point them out if their view disagrees with yours.

29 Lollipopgoldstein { 09.05.11 at 1:45 pm }

Of course I am biased! My views come from my point-of-view, just as you are biased since your views come from your point-of-view. This is a personal blog, not a news site. Blogs are rarely — if ever — an objective space.

I can only speak for myself, not for any other person. And I cannot address what other people do in other spaces or even what they say in my comment section. I can only speak to my words. Which is why I keep asking you to address my words on my blog rather than talk about other people’s words.

Long time readers know that I am quite happy for disagreement. I have often had my mind changed due to discussions that take place in the comment section. If you want to peruse old posts, I think you can see disagreement on many of them, and that disagreement — since it was done respectfully — is never dissected or shot down. Instead, it’s considered, it’s discussed off-blog, it is even sometimes the cause of an additional post saying, “I hadn’t thought of this until someone said it…” Therefore, I don’t know if it’s really fair for you to write: “It seems you are quick to point them out if their view disagrees with yours.” I’ll — again — happily accept that statement if you can find let’s say 5 other cases out of the thousands of posts on this blog that can support it. Because you would think that if it’s truly the case, you could find 5 other cases of it out of the thousands of posts on this site that have been written over the last 5+ years.

30 Lollipopgoldstein { 09.05.11 at 1:49 pm }

And Jo, I apologize to you since you seem to have popped on for this single post. Long time readers know that I ask them to be precise with their wording as well as to stand by any statements they make. I have written many times about the damage we do with words, therefore, I always caution people to be careful, to err on the side of not hitting publish when they’re not sure it’s what they actually mean, and to own their words. If you go back through my archives, you’ll see I write often about a writer’s responsibility.

Therefore, I will keep asking you to support your statements as well as stick to the topic on hand.

31 Alexis { 09.05.11 at 2:29 pm }

The only correct response to someone telling you that something you did made them feel like shit is “I am so sorry that you felt that way.”

Actually, I don’t think this is a good response because it puts the onus on the person whose feelings were hurt and evades responsibility for the person who was hurtful. (Also, I’ve seen people say just this with an implied subtext of, “I didn’t mean to be cruel, so you’re just being oversensitive by taking offense.”) The appropriate response is, IMO, “I’m sorry I hurt you. I didn’t mean to, but I wasn’t thinking.”

32 Jo { 09.05.11 at 2:39 pm }

“Therefore, I will keep asking you to support your statements as well as stick to the topic on hand.”

I will respond to everything in a bit, but I wanted to address this first. My statement was both sides say rude things. Heres my proof:

“This could be considered a humbling experience though. Just when you thought you didn’t have any stupid friends, there you go. Wondering which ones of your friends are dumb? Just add Facebook.”

The term “stupid” and “idiot” were thrown around many, many times.

“Is awareness really what is missing? Is there anyone not aware that breast cancer is a real issue? I am tired of hearing about it, frankly. Keep you medical issues to yourself. Get your annual mammogram …breast cancer has a 93% survival rate with early detection, one of the highest survival cancer rates.”

You want infertility to be recognized. I agree, I feel it needs more recognition but is bashing breast cancer awareness necessary? I think not.

Michelle commented :

“Ok, Kimberly. You said it exactly “People have the right to post what they want, but people also have the right to react how they want.” we ALL have things in our lives that are sad that we have to deal with. How about this. I have a son with autism. Every time one of my friends writes on Facebook about how proud they are of their child for something they have accomplished in school I don’t get “angry” at her or “upset” because my child may not ever have the same life experiences that their children will. Will he go to college? will he ever get to get married or experience the joys of being a parent like I have? I don’t know. We all “suffer” or deal with the things that life has dealt us but I don’t hate on other people who are fortunate enough to have things that I don’t. People can’t stop living their lives in order to make sure you and your feelings are ok. People did not post those updates to hurt your feelings or make you feel bad about yourself BUT every thing that you are saying here is with the intention of making other people feel bad about something that they thought they were doing for a good reason. yes, I thought it was silly too when I first saw it and I understand what you are saying but the point it that THAT”S LIFE. people are going to keep having babies even if it hurts your feelings and you have to just deal with it because you can’t change that. No one wants to make you feel bad. No one is trying to hurt your feelings. Stop making it personal because it is not. P.S. you are NOT dealing “silently” because you are all on here making everyone feel bad and complaining. Every time one of your friends tells you that she is pregnant and you pretend to be happy for her but you really aren’t she can see the look in your eyes. For those of you who have a 1000 Facebook friends then you probably do really need to get a life because I don’t you are really close friends with all 1000 of them and need to read their updates every day.”

Which I personally thought was a well thought out comment, there was no cussing no insults and she pointed out a good point. Her child suffers from autism, should she be insulted every time someone mentions their children’s accomplishments? The thing you are wrong about Mel is that I AM a long time reader. I am just finally speaking up. You write posts about your children’s accomplishments, which I thoroughly enjoy reading. BUT do you take into account parents like Michelle who may never experience that? You may, but you made those posts an how, am I to assume that you are insensitive to others like so many assume of me because I am “fertile”? Seems silly. The crazy thing is here is a response to her.

@Michelle, I’m so sorry you were so inconvenienced by worrying about your friend’s feelings. Boy, it sounds especially selfish of her to expect that a friend would want to care about her and protect her from pain.Sorry Mel, I’ll stop feeding the troll now.

A. why is she being called a troll? B. why is everything she is saying being ignored.

I don’t see where I am avoiding anything but please point it out to me.

33 Lollipopgoldstein { 09.05.11 at 2:52 pm }

Jo — I’m sorry, but I have to stop this discussion, at least from my end. You’ve just quoted many other people, but not me. And I’m asking you, since you are addressing me, to quote me. Since you aren’t, I’m going to step out of this conversation. Trying to do this respectfully, and you are certainly entitled to your thoughts. You can share them here too, as long as you stick to my commenting guidelines (they’re under my “about me” page). But at this point, I have to stop responding — apologies.

34 Kristin { 09.05.11 at 3:03 pm }

Mel, I have to extend my kudos to you for keeping this civilized and trying to discuss it like mature adults.

35 Chickenpig { 09.05.11 at 3:09 pm }

I posted a status that said the game was hurtful to those who were infertile AND fighting cancer, and one of my FB friends who I know is infertile simply said “Thank You.”

I think we should all try to be as helpful to as many people as we can, while hurting as few people as we can. Playing the FB meme helps no one, as far as I can see. Do those who support the meme really think that someone will run out and get a mammogram because you said “I’m 12 weeks and craving common sense”? What kind of awareness is the meme trying to create exactly? If you weigh that against the people you are hurting, the scale comes down on the “just don’t do it” side. If you really care about fighting cancer, put it as your status every day. Start with breast cancer and work your way right on down. Please, do it, I’ve lost too many people to cancer for it to be the focus of a silly meme. But for God sake, don’t beat around the bush about it. Cancer isn’t cute.

I think that part of the problem is that FB, like everyone else, is aging. It’s not just for college kids and teenagers anymore. Some of us who are on FB have been around long enough to know that cancer isn’t just a cute thing you should be ‘aware’ of, and that being ‘aware’ of something isn’t the same as fighting it. Just like that ‘knowing’ your fertility will drop off in your 30’s , and really GETTING it are two different things. Maybe we need a FB for old farts? Because obviously there are people on FB who think that we infertile ppl ‘just don’t get it, man, get a life’ and those of us who have been around the block think ‘you are hurting people with your silliness. When did just being aware of something do anyone any good’. It may be that there is too much of a gap to understand each other?

36 Jo { 09.05.11 at 3:14 pm }

Again, I never said what you said, I was commenting on your commenters, which you were addressing in this post, but since you are so adamant that I quote you (not sure why) I will address your title “Social Media Helps Separate the Compassionate from the Assholes” Who are the assholes Mel? Who are the compassionate? I will also walk away because this has actually cemented my feelings, you are incredibly biased and you refuse to acknowledge the venom the “compassionate” as you label them, are able to spew. It appears you actually have completely ignored everything I’ve said . Its almost as if you immediately labeled me an enemy and put your defenses up. So I guess it doesn’t matter what I have to say, you claim that you are open to opposing views, but it doesn’t seem that way…I will go back to lurkers status. Thank you for your time.

37 Jo { 09.05.11 at 3:15 pm }

@Kristin, if you are speaking on the convo she and I were having are you saying that I have somehow not been civil?

38 Chickenpig { 09.05.11 at 3:23 pm }

PS I also have a child with autism. Nothing that any parent has written about their children has ever brought me down. I assume that people reading here are of the same community, the ALI community. Is that a safe assumption? If you have fought a disease for years to have your child(ren), to not shine with pride at their accomplishments is unthinkable. They are HERE. Isn’t that amazing?

And I can’t stress enough, as one parent with a child who happens to have autism: Children do not SUFFER autism. My son hasn’t SUFFERED a day in his life. My son is awesome, he is incredibly accomplished and I consider him second to no one. Including Mel’s kids, who sound amazing 🙂

39 Jo { 09.05.11 at 3:46 pm }

PS I also have a child with autism. Nothing that any parent has written about their children has ever brought me down. I assume that people reading here are of the same community, the ALI community. Is that a safe assumption? If you have fought a disease for years to have your child(ren), to not shine with pride at their accomplishments is unthinkable. They are HERE. Isn’t that amazing?

I agree chickenpig, I’ll even take it a step further, my belief is every single child born is a miracle, why should ANY child being born bring ANYONE down? It is a miracle worth being celebrated. Right?

40 Quiet Dreams { 09.05.11 at 4:27 pm }

Inspired by Kym and Kristin’s posts, I posted the following: Many can say: “I’m 0 weeks and craving a baby.” What does this have to do with BREAST CANCER? Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the US alone and it’s a very real side effect for cancer patients. If you or someone you love has been touched by cancer or infertility – or both – check out Fertile Hope and make a real difference by contributing today (link included)

I immediately got several likes, and not just from my IF sisters.

41 Chickenpig { 09.05.11 at 4:28 pm }

Mel didn’t say that babies bring her down, or pregnant women. She says that she is happy for them, and sad for herself at the same time. She clearly states that it is possible to feel both emotions at the same time. I have three children, and sometimes reading a post that someone else is pregnant still makes me a little sad, for me, I am still over the moon for that person. Or perhaps sad isn’t the right word, wistful? I have always celebrated other people’s pregnancies/babies, even to the point of going to a baby shower for my good friend after my miscarriage. What Mel is saying, quite politely and eloquently, is that the emotions should flow both ways. My friend was also incredibly supportive of me in my loss. Is that really too much to ask?

As my sister points out, those who are single and/or child free never get the celebrations. No wedding gifts, bridal showers, anniversaries , baby showers, kids birthdays…. Yet they attend those for everyone else, and bring gifts. Is it too much to say once in a while “I know this may be hard for you. Thank you. I’m sorry if all my celebrations rub it in your face a little.”? Mel is asking for fairness and give and take. She isn’t saying that pregnant people shouldn’t be happy. Or even that they need to tone down their happiness…just that maybe fertile people could listen to US once in a while.

42 Tigger { 09.05.11 at 4:40 pm }

Jo, I don’t think a single person here has expressed anything contrary to that opinion. None of us are angry that people are pregnant. We’re angry and hurt because people are PRETENDING to be pregnant, and making light of being pregnant, in a misguided attempt to make women “aware” of a cancer that (almost) every person knows about. Breast cancer isn’t a secret. It’s not shameful…but hiding the awareness behind a fake sign that has nothing to do with it makes it seems so. And WHY aren’t we to tell the men? Don’t the men get breast cancer too? Don’t they suffer when the women (and other men!) in their lives get breast cancer? Are they not also included in any pregnancy or infertility that their lives hold? Why are we singling out a good chunk of the population as “not to be told about this thing”?

43 Jo { 09.05.11 at 4:50 pm }

Very eloquently said, chickenpeg. I did not get that message reading the title “Social Media Helps Separate the Compassionate from the Assholes” Infact, I got the exact opposite. While I see your point, I think its odd for a person to apologize for living their lives. Friendship is a two way street and, no, that single person may not get to celebrate the moments you mentioned, one, he or she may not have any desire to (not everyone thinks marriage and a baby carriage is the ultimate goal in life.) and two, when that single friend does do things in life, like say graduate college, move into a new apartment, the other friend is there cheering them on. So as a formerly single friend to people getting married and having babies, no, I did not conciser them rubbing it in my face, mainly because I realize people live their lives and the world does not revolve around me.

“Mel is asking for fairness and give and take. She isn’t saying that pregnant people shouldn’t be happy. Or even that they need to tone down their happiness…just that maybe fertile people could listen to US once in a while.”

I ask for the same. Can I not be refereed to as insensitive, stupid, naive,because I am fertile, respect goes two ways.

44 Jo { 09.05.11 at 5:09 pm }

Tigger, I think you might have missed my point, (I hope you read all of my comments.) because, my problem isn’t being upset about the meme, its the victimization that bothers me. Like i said in my original comment in response to the post, “don’t dish it if you cant take it”. Mels post was about the rude comments made, I completely agree there were a lot of rude comments, BY BOTH SIDES. That fact seemed to be ignored, and that bothered me so I said so. Again notice the title “Social Media Helps Separate the Compassionate from the Assholes” . I read those comments, There was a huge lack of compassion on both ends of opinion.

45 kh99 { 09.05.11 at 5:13 pm }

I noticed the meme on Thursday and rolled my eyes. On Friday, I overhead my coworker next door stressing to her husband about whether a friend with whom they were going on vacation in 2 weeks was pregnant based on her participation in this “game.” I enlightened her and then posted a fairly acerbic status update on this game. I received lots of likes and one comment in support. I’m mad about this game for a lot of reasons: infertility, lots of cancer in my life and in the life of my friends, and the thoughtlessness of this effort to raise awareness leaves me breathless. I posted about it today.

46 May { 09.05.11 at 5:54 pm }

Mel, you rock.

47 K { 09.05.11 at 6:15 pm }


You are missing the point on so many levels that I had to seriously consider whether to even respond to what you’ve been saying but I’m doing so in the hopes the maybe you might learn something, but I don’t know, it could be a waste of time anyway.

First of all…you’re on a blog that is written by a woman who dealt/deals with infertility. She wrote a honest response about a stupid meme (and yes, I’m using the word stupid. The meme is stupid. Deal with it). And then a handful of commenters, yourself included at this point, come into her house and shit all over the place. That’s why she was referring to them as assholes. She wasn’t saying everyone who has a kid is an asshole. Or anyone who gets pregnant is an asshole. She was specifically referring to a handful of people who left stupid comments on a blog post on her personal site. You’re defensiveness about that is actually kind of telling.

In your last comment you write, “its the victimization that bothers me.” What the hell? Why are you spending so much time on what is generally considered an infertility/ALI blog and complaining about “victimization”? Do you go hang out on cancer blogs and complain about “victimization”? Seriously, look at the context wherein you’re making these statements.

And it really is about context. You can’t equate the “rudeness” that comes from the “infertility side” (I’m using quotes because it’s ridiculous to talk in terms of sides, we’re people. No pregnancy is alike, and no experience of infertility is alike either). Again, context. We live in a world where babies are miracles, mothers are saints who have their own day, and pregnancy is simultaneously a magical-wonderland experience and a difficult burden where-in if you’re a man or a woman who hasn’t been “blessed” to experience it then you’re clueless and can’t comment on it (ie, you don’t have a voice). While there are obviously exceptions, in general pregnant women and mothers get loads of support and accolades from society at large. When I get rude about “fertiles”, it’s coming from a place of isolation and frustration…and I do not apologize for it because nobody lives with my infertility except myself and my husband, and yet we have to live with other peoples offspring in our face every single day.

So no. Do no equate what you perceive as rudeness coming from the infertility community with what we perceive as insensitivity and/or ignorance coming from the rest of the world at large. It’s not the same. Context matters.

48 Mo { 09.05.11 at 6:59 pm }

Your writing blows me away. Especially when it involves harry potter analogies!
I outed myself as an infertile on facebook as a result of this meme, and I mostly got crickets. The sad part is that I got NO REACTION at all from my FB friends who posted the meme.
Then I saw the flame war on Elphie’s blog eggsandsperm.com and felt compelled to take it a step further, by not only writing a blog post in defense of those of us who take offense to this meme, but also posting said blog post on my profile. With no privacy settings. This is a first. I hope it leads to a discussion. I welcome it. Hopefully that means this stupid meme will at least lead to some people being educated on IF and RPL.

49 Chickenpig { 09.05.11 at 7:03 pm }

Than perhaps you need to read further down from the title. I read all the comments, and there was one person who said “Why don’t you all get a life.” Mel is saying that is an assholish thing to do. Did you say everyone here needs to ‘get a life’? If not, she wasn’t talking about you. Someone said that Michelle was a troll, I don’t think she is. Mel didn’t say anything to her. Perhaps you should be directing your comments to that person? Because I don’t see Mel saying those things to you. No one here is calling you an asshole as far as I can tell. But you have to admit, saying to infertile people who are in pain that they should just ‘get a life’, when she doesn’t need to be on an infertility blog in the first place is kind of an asshat thing to do.

The thing is there is a difference between the private pain a person may FEEL and what that person DOES in response. Our reactions of pain are real, we aren’t victims, we aren’t whining to anyone. What actions we take are what is important to everyone else. What is it to you, or to anyone else, if a person’s pregnancy post causes them pain when they put on a brave face and ACT appropriately. (and Michelle, if you don’t think we are keeping the pain off of our faces well enough, that’s just too bad, we’re doing our best).

We are not victims. We are not whining that no one knows our pain…ooooh poor me. We’re saying that a stupid meme helps no one but hurts plenty and is senseless. We are judged by our actions in this life, not our private pain. You think we are acting like whining victims here? Yeah, some of us do some of the time. But this is a safe place for us to do it in. We’re not wearing our asshats on FB.

Someone on the last post berated us for not having any FUN. YOU know FUN? Cancer isn’t fun. Infertility isn’t fun. Please pardon me if my pain is slipping a little bit. My father died of cancer, my maternal grandparents both died of cancer, my FIL died of cancer and my mother is a skin cancer survivor. The idea that some people pretending to have cravings is upsetting to me is laughable. What is upsetting to me is that people out there still think the outrage about this damned meme is about the pain we feel when we see a pregnancy post. It’s not. It’s SO not. It is far more complicated than that. And telling people that they should “get a life” “it’s about fun, remember fun” or that they are just playing the victim card doesn’t open up dialogue, it shuts it down. That’s all that Mel is saying. What are you saying? Did someone hurt your feelings by calling the meme silly and juvenile, pointless and hurtful? If a bunch of people used this meme status to raise autism awareness I would still think it was those things, maybe even more so. So sue me.

50 Warrior Woman { 09.05.11 at 7:19 pm }

Mel, I had made a post on my blog about this issue last week and got very positive responses. Some even asked to use what I wrote on their own FB pages, which made me feel good. When I posted on FB myself, I didn’t get much of a response, but I don’t usually get responses for anything I write about IF, unfortunately. But it doesn’t stop me!

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