My Social Media Algorithm Keeps Showing Cancer Content

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Since I’ve become a patient and advocate, my social media algorithm now mostly shows cancer-related content. Here’s an open letter to said algorithm, or as I call it, “Algo.”

I have only myself to blame, but ever since I revealed on social media that I am a cancer patient and advocate, I have been barraged with promotions. Not just any promotions, mind you. These have cancer themes, such as the latest clinical trials and the work of renowned cancer research centers.

I fully support advanced treatments and ongoing research into this disease that so plagues me. But for someone who has a life outside of cancer, that kinda sucks, you know?

At first, I didn’t mind and would skip past these promos, but now I see them as kind of a nuisance. The cookies on my social media sites have become monsters, tracking me relentlessly.

Hey, I’m more than my algorithm!

OK, I guess that I could have figured out how to change my settings to avoid, or at least downplay, these promos. After all, the internet titans need to make a buck from all my scrolling and posting, right? Who am I to fight city hall!?

As a patient advocate, I have become very public about my cancer experience. I regularly retweet CURE contributors’ blog posts to help inform and boost the spirits of our fellow cancer survivors. And, since 2020, I’ve been one of those contributors myself, and don’t miss the chance to share my own posts with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Sorry to say, but that puts a target on my back from the algorithm brotherhood.

So, I’m fighting back the only way I know how: Through humor! Here is my message to “Ron’s algorithm”:

“Dear algorithm,

“Yes, yes, I know you’re on to me. You’re so cocky, with all that tracking you do. So, when I started posting and tweeting about cancer so frequently, my cookies put a bug in your ear, and you just could not stop putting cancer promotions in my newsfeed.

“But I’m here to tell ya, Algo, you need to leave me alone or I may be forced to take out an emergency protective order. That’ll show ya! 

“I mean, come on, I’m no one-trick pony. My social media messages include not only cancer-related themes, but also my strong interest in national and local news and the latest movies on Hulu. I mean, haven’t you noticed that once in a while I feel kinda silly and share ‘Far Side’ cartoons on Facebook, and dad jokes with my Twitter followers? Why don’t those kinds of things appear in my feed?

“Can’t you see that I’m pretty diverse? I’ve said from the beginning of my journey with ‘The Big C’ that it would not define me. I just didn’t know that you would constantly follow me and remind me of it.

Things weren’t always so contentious between us, Algo. Remember the time I watched 120 episodes of ‘You Bet Your Life’ on YouTube? You were good to me then. You made sure to bookmark my spot night after night when I was hankering for some good old-fashioned humor from show host Groucho Marx. It was just the right antidote when cancer-related blood work was on the horizon.

And you’ve been consistently good to me by prominently displaying classical music on YouTube. I love Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and Glazunov! They’ve proven to be a great diversion to fight the cancer blues.

I mean, where did we go wrong? I guess that now that I’m recalling the good times, I can calm down enough and try to reconcile with you.

“So, let’s call a truce. Give me less feedback on cancer and I’ll show you a little more respect and stop criticizing you in public.

“Is that a deal, buddy?”

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