Monday, December 7, 2015

Reflections of a Vaguebooker

I was guilty of vaguebooking the other day. In my defense, I wasn't looking for pity or attention. I swear it was an honest mistake.

On Facebook, I posted "Fuuuuuck Cancer" randomly with no context. In hindsight, I can see how this could be misconstrued, but when I posted it, I really didn't think of all the ways it could be interpreted. In general, it was an expression of frustration at the pervasiveness of cancer. Specifically, it was a reaction to hearing that a good friend's father was diagnosed with cancer at a relatively young age. It was also a declaration of determination. He will beat it.

Maybe with a paddle?

After posting it, I had dinner and went to see Creed so I forgot all about it. A few minutes into the movie (before Rocky is *SPOILER ALERT* diagnosed with the same cancer as my friend's dad...there is literally no escaping it) my phone's text message notification goes off. I put it on vibrate and checked the text. A good friend asked if everything is ok. I had no idea what he was talking about. Then I see another text almost simultaneously. Again, "are you ok?" The second message continued: "I just saw your post."

Oh shit. I checked Facebook and 5 people had already commented, some to express their agreement and their own experiences with it (these were the types of responses I had anticipated) others asking if I was okay and telling me to keep my head up.

I immediately felt horrible. People thought my family or I was sick. And in a way, it is my family, but I'm not affected so much by it that I need sympathy or even concern. I'm not going to act like I'm directly impacted by it more than I really am. I just feel real bad for my friend.

So it was not my intention at all to get pity, but it was really moving seeing people's reactions. The comments. The texts. That was all truly unexpected and heartwarming. It reminded me that some friends, no matter how often you see or talk to them, will always be there for you. And it showed me that some friends that you really only communicate with via social media can be just as supportive and caring and important as any other friend.

I have ridiculed vaguebooking before, and after doing it and seeing the reaction, I'm even more against it. Most people are really caring, and if they see a post that vaguely alludes to sickness or something troublesome, they will worry. If something is really wrong, it's best just to talk to someone. Even sharing it on social media is fine (and you will clearly get support, as my post just proved) but just tell us what it is, don't make vague references to it. That's a cheap way to get sympathy or start a conversation.

But damn if it doesn't work. At least I know if I ever do get cancer people will like my status.


In all honesty, the comments, and even the likes, feel good. They are ultimately the least you can do to support somebody, but so what? I hope that when the situation arises, I will check on my friends as they did for me. Even people I had just gotten into heated debates with liked the post and checked on me. It's always important to remember the humanity in everybody, even those you vehemently disagree with. And its always good to let your friends and family know how you feel about them every now and then, before the inevitable news of their eventual cancer diagnosis.

Sorry, I meant to end on an uplifting note. Here's Aunt Bethany singing the National Anthem. Hey, she didn't die of cancer!

It was alzheimer's. Sorry again.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed. 

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