Facebook and COPD

A lot of terrible things have happened to us over the past few weeks. Death, illness...

But some wonderful things have happened as well. We hear from friends and family that we’ve not heard from, often in years. Hopefully, we’ve been extending ourselves to others in ways we have not before. Sometimes friends. Sometimes strangers.

We can be helpful

In some ways, those of us with COPD have been better prepared for self-quarantine and self-isolation. As my colleague Barbara Moore points out in her recent blog, many of us have self-isolated for years because of COPD.1

And because of that, I think we can be helpful to our neighbors and friends who are beginning to “freak-out” or suffer from “cabin fever” and in whatever manner seems fit to you. Social media can be a nuisance and a blessing. But in this case, we can use FB, Instagram, Twitter (which I still don’t get -lol) and Tic-Toc (I think – but I’m not certain.)

The state of my Facebook page

Today I reviewed my FB friends. I have over 1,000, but I’m not sure why. I think as FB began to grow, many of us who were using it early on just said “Yes” to everyone who requested a friendship. And we requested as many friendships as we could. At least I did.

As many of you may remember, Facebook began as a kind of a college directory. Students limited their contacts to those who were on-campus or who were at least attending the same classes. I was working as the director of communications for a small liberal-arts college on the east coast at the time and had no idea what it was - and neither did my boss – the president of the college.

A friends review

Even the term- “social media” had yet to be invented. I’m pretty sure he wanted me to join so as to “spy” (my word not his) on what was being said about the college generally and, specifically, about him. He had no reason to worry. Most of the students appeared to enjoy being away from home (their parents!) and in 2 years I never saw a criticism of the president.

So, it was interesting to review those 1000 “Friends” names and faces (I - WE ALL - have time on our hands to perform such operations these days!). There were many, many names/faces that I do not think I ever interacted with at any time and so I began deleting. I felt bad about some because we’d had friendships of a kind at first but then we eventually drifted off.

Getting in touch

But what the review also inspired was a very strong desire to get in touch with at least some of these folks. I’m blessed. I’d say I’m in fairly regular contact with almost 500 of them. I don’t mean we’re messaging each other every day or even every week. But I know when something unusual happens I get a lot of comments on what it is I posted.

When I recently posted that I’d been approved for the lung transplant list, I got over 350 comments. If you’re on Facebook for any given period of time, sooner or later, someone is going to “challenge” you – songs, books, recipes, movies...

My own challenge

So, I gave myself a challenge. But my challenge is a little different. I’m going to start with those Facebook folks I know from COPD.net and then continue on to folks I’ve worked with, friends from the old neighborhood, and a new category I’m inventing: “Total strangers who I still cannot figure out how we became friends.”

And I’m going to write to them or Instant Messenger them if I can and simply ask, “Are you doing well?” I’m predicting that I will probably get over 100 responses of “who is this?” but that’s OK. Because I know there will be at least 10 or maybe 20 folks I write to that no one has written to check up on them during these times of fear and isolation. And I think I’ll be able to feel their smile no matter how far away they may actually be.

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