Some time ago I met a friend for drinks in town. She arrived enthusiastically brandishing her new tablet. Now I quite like a new bit of tech. Don’t know the ins and outs of how things work, and frankly don’t much give a damn. But I love a gadget that does useful things. But this friend was not so much interested in her new purchase as in the opportunity to show me just how many “likes” and “re-tweets” her latest Facebook post or Tweet had earned.
Now since I have found myself stuck at home baldly braving my latest chemo aches and pains, Facebook and Twitter have been extraordinary pals. They’ve allowed me to feel connected to people who I don’t have the energy to meet. This can be difficult at times watching friends sporting full heads of hair and eyelashes loaded with mascara living it large in bars and clubs in all the glam spots about town. I get jealous. Not that I especially liked going to bars and clubs. But one thing’s for sure, when you don’t have the energy to do a particular thing, then it’s that particular thing that you want most of all to do. I compare it to an unsuitable boyfriend when you’re a teenager. The more you suspect your Mother doesn’t want you to date someone the more likely you are to want to find yourself being felt up by him on the back of the school bus. But, back to the point. Back to the mate with the new tablet. This mate had actually been keeping a tally on how many “likes” she’d got for each post or tweet. Indeed it seemed that she was rating her popularity according to this data. Now instead of recommending she get a job in communications with a specialism in social media I wondered at her neediness. Indeed, there was a hint of pity in my responses to her that evening.
But I may have been wrong. When you don’t get out much, when you don’t get to speak to many people, and when you do they tilt their heads and ask you how you are before nodding gravely and congratulating you on your bravery, a little bit of online feedback is precious. But guess what I have discovered. Since being diagnosed with cancer, not only have I become beautiful and brave at the blink of an eye but each post or tweet is branded sage, witty or both and I can no longer count the “likes” and “re-tweets” on one hand. Clearly this is the time to put my name forward to give a TEDx talk, write articles or pen a screenplay because it seems each word I write is gold.
So, what happened to my mate with the new tablet once I started trouncing her on the social media popularity stakes? Well, like a number of so-called “close friends” post diagnosis, I didn’t see her for dust. But that’s alright, they all care greatly because every time I post on Facebook they really, really like it.