Vital media: The affective and temporal dynamics of young cancer patients’ social media practices

Carsten Stage, Karen Hvidtfeldt Madsen, Lisbeth Klastrup

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article presents results from a research project investigating young cancer patients’ general use of social media and their
lived experience of the choices and dilemmas involved in using social media in relation to moments of existential crisis. This
article’s key finding—based on an extensive survey with 205 young cancer patients and 25 qualitative interviews—is that
social media becomes increasingly important for young people after a cancer diagnosis and that these young people engage
with social media as—what we will call—vital media. The analysis in this article focuses on affective and temporal media
experiences in the empirical material collected and argues that three dimensions of “media vitality” are salient: (1) that young
people engage with social media to actively produce vitality in terms of generating a sense of wellbeing or balance by sharing,
seeking out, or avoiding particular types of cancer-related content; (2) that young people experience social media as a vital or “lively” technology that introduces unpredictable and sometimes unwanted material into their lives; and (3) that young people feel they are expected to perform or share vital approaches to illness on social media, such as positive or life-affirming—as
opposed to negative or pessimistic—accounts of their illness. In this way, the concept of “vital media” addresses strategic,
ecological, and cultural aspects of young cancer patients’ social media engagements.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Media + Society
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Vital media: The affective and temporal dynamics of young cancer patients’ social media practices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this