Ugly media feelings: Negative affect in young cancer patients’ experiences of social media


  • Carsten Stage Aarhus University
  • Lisbeth Klastrup IT University of Copenhagen
  • Karen Hvidtfeldt University of Southern Denmark



social media, ugly feelings, negative affect, suspended agency, illness, young cancer patients


In contemporary media culture, social media have become important publics of care for young people with a serious illness. While much previous research has focused on the positive aspects of online support networks, this article investigates the affective experience of what we call ‘ugly media feelings’, such as envy, shame, annoyance, irritation and scepticism, based on an in-depth interview study of 25 young Danish cancer patients’ (aged 15–29) experiences of social media. We argue that ugly media feelings can be analysed, firstly, as indirect revelations of the communicative ideals and media investments that young cancer patients make when they turn to social media during their illnesses and, secondly, as entangled with media cultural changes that have created new affectively unpredictable spaces for interacting about serious illness outside home and health institutions.

Author Biographies

Carsten Stage, Aarhus University

Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University

Lisbeth Klastrup, IT University of Copenhagen

Associate Professor in the Department of Digital Design at IT University of Copenhagen

Karen Hvidtfeldt, University of Southern Denmark

Professor in the Department for the Study of Culture at the University of Southern Denmark




How to Cite

Stage, C., Klastrup, L., & Hvidtfeldt, K. (2021). Ugly media feelings: Negative affect in young cancer patients’ experiences of social media. First Monday, 26(7).