Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Thursday 25th June

It has been slammed home to me a few times in the last little while, and even more so recently, that we truly are social animals. That is, of course, why the social media work so well. We like to know. We like to be known. And, I suppose, we like to be known to be known.

I am on Facebook, but don’t have Twitter, barely know what Instagram is and wouldn’t understand Tumblr if I even tried. I do have Whatsapp, because it is so much more convenient than plain SMSing and, of course, much more affordable (and, no, I’m not with Cell C 😉 ).

I don’t get notifications from Facebook on my phone and, although I had Messenger working for a while, it has stopped notifying me and I don’t even know why. Or how to change that. Nor do I want to, I think (or I would have found a kid to do it).

My Facebook activity is about logging in a couple of times a day, usually on my computer, rarely from my phone. I scroll through things, get bored very quickly and then log out again. If, Yay! Yay! Yay!, someone has acknowledged me in some way (via a message, or a notification), I get excited, read the relevant input and then am off line again pretty quickly. Sometimes I will have a brief conversation, but, again, I get bored waiting for replies, so will send a message and leave it. I get notifications fairly regularly when I log in, but often they are about something random, or another invitation to play Candy Crush – and, if anyone knows anything at all about me, it is that I don’t ever play any kind of video game. I hate them. So, those invitations are definitely not about me as a person. In fact, I’m pretty sure they are automatically generated, as the people who invite me are usually very, very random.

Despite all of this, when there is a genuine notification, because I have been tagged in a post of some kind, or, even better, someone has commented on a post I’m tagged in – or on one of my rare posts – my heart gives a little bump and I think, Yay, someone out there relates to me. 🙂


I think, though, that it’s simply human. We all like to be acknowledged. Even when we say, a la Greta Garbo (and often not in the exact words), “I want to be alone.”

That, in itself, is a cry for some kind of attention.

Then, of course, along comes something like cancer that leads to all kinds of attention, both good and bad. The toing-and-froing from doctor to doctor, trips into and out of places like labs, X-ray and chemists, the surgical procedures and oncology sessions are all necessary, invasive and intrusive. They are also, incredibly, also affirmative, as there is a great sense of many people pulling together for me, to do what is necessary to make sure that I get better.

During the ‘crisis’ (intense) time of the cancer, Facebook becomes an incredible source of support. The messages, posts, comments and reactions from many, many people are wonderful to receive, lovely to read and contribute so much to build you up and tell you that you, truly, are not alone.

Then, if you are lucky like me, the cancer is gone, the chemo is even over and the intensity of the whole situation calms down. It becomes something that is not at the forefront of so many minds. For the survivor, though, it is always there, lurking as some kind of ‘what if’, shadowy presence.

And the support, although not lacking, becomes less voluble, less public, less frequently posted.

Sometimes, though, it would be really nice if it could be about ‘me’, even when there is no threatening disease making itself known.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *