Suffering and Social Media

A dear friend of mine recently had a miscarriage.

(its ok, she said she didn’t mind that I wrote about it if I changed her name)

She woke up one morning and didn’t feel great and then she realized what was happening. She informed people by the timeline below,

  1. She immediately called her husband to meet her at the hospital
  2. She called her sister right after she found out
  3. She called her parents before the procedure
  4. She called 3 of her close friends and emailed her boss a couple of days after.

Then she wondered, how should she tell people? It was a late term miscarriage, so a lot of people knew she was expecting. She slept on it for a few days and then finally decided to post on Facebook. She wrote,

“I’ve been struggling with this for a few weeks now and I wanted to let my friends and extended family know, Josh and I had a miscarriage. We are both ok but very upset and need some time to heal – so apologize if we are MIA for a bit. Thank you for your love and support”

Immediately, she had hundreds of people commenting and liking – offering their condolences and support.

Judy felt a little better. She felt as though, posting on Facebook was the right decision and for a little while she didn’t feel so alone in her suffering.


A couple of weeks later I had lunch with some mutual friends. Judy didn’t attend, she still wasn’t feeling up to it.

As we ate our meals one friend mentioned Judy. She asked me if I knew and I replied yes, she had told me. Then another friend asked, when she told me. I was confused, I didn’t understand what did timeline have to do with it? I said, “Um. Maybe a couple of days after.”

Silence consumed the table.

“We found out on Facebook” One friend mentioned and the rest of the table nodded their heads.

Then one friend had the courage to say what the rest of them were thinking, “I just think, it was tacky, the way she did it. I mean, I get it, you are upset, but posting it on Facebook? It’s a lil……. attention seeking”

I know, as you read this you are horrified and in that moment, I was horrified too. How could they be so cruel? This poor woman lost a child and they are talking about etiquette?


When I thought about it – I realized that the only reason I felt such compassion toward Judy is because she is a dear friend. I too have judged people who posted about illness and loss on Facebook and I guarantee so have you.

We can’t help it.

If you search “How to post about cancer on Facebook,” there are hundreds and thousands of articles instructing you on how to announce to Facebook that you have been diagnosed with cancer. There are equally as many articles arguing that you should not post about cancer on Facebook.

According to some sharing your illness on social media dilutes the grief so that its comprehensible to everyone, including those people who are only distantly aware of the situation.

I read through the comments posted on Judy’s status,

“I am so sorry for your loss. Please let me know if you need anything at all. Remember, God has a plan for all of us”

and another,

“You are strong passionate woman and I am praying for you. Everything will work out in due time”

It makes complete sense, it’s the human condition – trying to control uncertainty.  People were trying to control the situation – letting her know that her loss was part of some master plan.

In 1990 researcher Aerie Kruglanski introduced the concept of “need for cognitive closure”- Need for closure means: individuals need to have an answer for any given topic. This concept explains the comments I read on Judy’s post.

Judy didn’t ask people for explanations. She was simply letting people know about this tragic event that happened. But to comprehend and accept what had happened to her people were offering their reasons, “It’s all part of God’s plan.”

Why do we consider peoples suffering oversharing? It’s because it makes us uncomfortable. It reinforces the reality that we run from – that life is messy and uncertain. That despite all our systems, measurements and procedures we cannot control anything.

Social Media is our security blanket. It is a world we have created to protect us from the real world and any mention of reality upsets us. Judy’s miscarriage was tragic and unexpected. Her grief is a reminder that we cannot predict or control anything and what my girlfriends were upset about was not etiquette. Her Facebook status destroyed their perfect feed. It reminded them about how horribly messy life is.

If you are suffering in silence, I encourage you to post about it. If you are struggling with how to announce your grief. Check out these sites:

Death and Social Media

In 2012 there was a rather morbid debate on what should happen to the Facebook pages of deceased users. Loved ones felt that they should have the power to delete these accounts or at the very least control them.

Facebook responded by creating legacy accounts. Accounts that memorialized a user once they passed away. Users can decide who their legacy contact is and what to do with their account once they pass.  In essence, Facebook created a virtual cemetery.



In 2098 dead Facebook profiles will outnumber living.

Because we are aware of our mortality, unconsciously even, all of our behavior is a way to survive and cope. Social media keeps us alive. It helps us deal with death – our own or a loved ones.


Earlier this year a beautiful young girl from Queens, NY was brutally murdered. She went out for a jog and was attacked.

After her death, this young woman’s social media profile went from 1000 followers to 10.5K – her name became a hashtag. She was immortalized. Thousands of users from across the globe commented on her photo’s – speculating on what could’ve been.

I began to follow her as well – scrolling through her photo’s to comfort myself. She was gone, but looking through her vacation made me feel like she was still here, at least a part of her.


Five years ago my sisters friend passed away. She went to a party and overdosed on drugs – She was found passed out in her apartment. It was very sad. She was only 19. Our town was overwhelmed with grief, she was very young and had a lot of potential. Who knows what she could have been? A doctor, a lawyer …

Left behind was her Facebook profile – the weeks after her death friends and family posted messages on her wall. “We miss you.” “Always in our thoughts.” Soon, those comments stopped. However, when I look at her Facebook every now and then – I see messages from her mom.

“Hello sweetheart missing you soo much Ashley! Stay close to mommy love you !!!!”

Her mom post on her wall every single day. Leaving her messages about how the day was, if she ran into a friend, a memory she remembered of them together. I think Facebook realizes the value of these pages – they bring comfort.

Our lives are fleeting. We cannot say with 100% certainty that we will wake up tomorrow and that is horrifying. These pages are our permanent footprint. They represent us and in our heart of hearts we feel that having these profiles will keep us alive.


As I scrolled through Instagram this morning, I noticed that my entire feed was filled with bikini clad women, these images tagged “#fitspiration”. I follow a handful of personal trainers and fitness experts because I enjoy tips for making an avocado smoothie and how to run without destroying your knees.

But why was everyone posting basically naked photos? I went back and examined the copy –

“New Year, New Me. Promoting body positivity and being happy with how I look!!  #bopo #fitspiration”

Oh, I see.

Because we are an image based culture that is driven by social media, we have warped how women perceive empowerment and body positivity. Women today feel empowered when there is a positive response to objectified and sexualized images of themselves.

Please put down your pitchforks and hear me out.

Demi Lovato has been a feminist champion – speaking openly about her issues with weight, an eating disorder and body image. I respect her candor and I believe that we need more female role models that speak openly about these issues.

But, why is it that she has to prove to us that she truly loves her body? And is comfortable in her skin?

Below, you’ll see 2 images. The first is an Instagram Demi posted, captioned,

“Learn to lurrrrrrvveee yerrrr currrrvveees. I actually used to hate them…But then a special someone helped me learn how to love them…And he sure loves them…”

The second image is the Complex Magazine cover from September 2015 – known as Demi’s coming out. Complex has shot a few controversial covers to date (most notably with Kim K and the champagne bottles aimed at breaking the internet). This photo shows Demi topless, in lingerie and sitting on an inflatable banana.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 12.13.21 PM.png

I ask you this, if you cannot tell the difference between a sexually objectified image and a body positive image – is it really empowering?

I know what I am saying goes against modern feminism. The idea that anything goes and we must not critique women. For a long time, I too believed this idea. I was fuming when people criticized Kim Kardashian nude selfie. She should be able to post whatever the hell she wants. It’s her body, it’s her choice.

I still believe that it’s a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body. But the thing is we only reference women in relation to their bodies. These nude selfies and topless photos reinforce the message that women are just bodies and is stark reminder that there is fine line between empowerment and objectification.

We live in a patriarchal society – designed by men to benefit men.  Despite what Beyoncé’s song tells us, women run the world. Women are indoctrinated into believing that beauty is capital and our bodies are a commodity. We are conditioned to believe that true empowerment comes from our bodies.

We would never ask this from a man.

“Feel great about yourself Gary? Prove it. Take off your clothes and post a selfie.”

Ridiculous, right? But this is what we demand from women. If a child star needs to tell the world she is ready to be cast as an adult, she poses half nude in GQ or Maxim magazine. Why?

Why do we post nude selfies to portray female empowerment? Because this system has told us that women are just bodies – our value is only in how we look and are perceived.

Instagram is not immune to this system; it runs within it.

Below you’ll see a few images tagged “#bopo”, short for “body positive”. The images show women in bikinis, lingerie and even topless – the messages are truly positive,

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 12.17.14 PM.png

The comments underneath the messages are positive as well – women are thanking women for their strength and sending messages of encouragement. I admire these women for embracing their bodies.


I worry about the effects of this type of behavior. 1. You must pose half naked in a photo and share it on Instagram in order to embrace your body. 2. The likes and comments you receive equal the amount of confidence you have

You must be thinking, what do I have against getting confidence from Instagram?

A time-honored adage sums it up: “Confidence is silent, Insecurities are loud.”

My Final Thoughts:

Is the #BoPo movement truly body positivity? Is it how we want our daughters to express empowerment?

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 12.22.10 PM.png

we need to stop reducing women to nothing more than the bodies they come in.

We, us, women, we need to stop playing by the rules created for us. We need to stop operating in the current system because by doing so we perpetuate it. We need to show our girls that body positivity does not come from others’ validation of how we look on Instagram. And yes, while feeling good about how you look is important – you are more than your body. You are your mind, you are your relationships, you are your work, you are your accomplishments…more than just a body. More than just a bra size, a waist size – more than your ass, your thighs, your vagina. That is not what defines you.

Feeling good about yourself comes from a deeper understanding of who you are –

You are part of a sacred sisterhood – You are the goddess of life, a creator – You come from a long line of powerful warriors.

“It is time to look within to find the source of your feminine identity, essence and self. Look within to heal and find the truth your voice, wisdom and heart. Look within to find your courage and to embrace your inherent intuition, wisdom and healthy sacred sexuality and wholly embrace the sovereign state of womanhood…Re-align with that with that which exists of life and truth so that you may embrace your fullest expression of your whole and feminine self.”

For More:


What is social media? The definition that I throw around is this,

websites and applications that allow users to create and share content and participate in social networking.

At its most basic level thats all it is. But social media has impacted our lives in a major way. It has changed the way we think, we feel and even how we act.

I believe that social media enhances the good in us and the bad in us. However, social media is neither good or bad – it just is.

It exists in this 3rd dimension between our spiritual and human existence.

I know you think this is absurd but I promise you as I write more you will understand.