As with anything, social media has its pros and its cons. And when it comes to managing COPD or any chronic illness, it can be crucial to balance those pros and cons to ensure you’re receiving and sharing the right information.
Social media brings a whole new level to managing a chronic illness. In one respect, it’s a fantastic way to connect with others who understand similar struggles and provide much needed support at any time, day or night. On the other hand, it can also be a world of unsupported information and biased representations.
What to Embrace:
- COPD-specific online communities and support groups: These are great places to connect with others and remind yourself that you are not alone in your experiences. When managing a chronic illness like COPD, it can be difficult to convey your thoughts and concerns with “outsiders” even if they are friends and family. Finding a support network of those who understand can be incredibly beneficial.
- Social media spans the world: It’s a great opportunity to connect with other COPDers in other cities, states, countries and even continents. It’s a good way to learn about other cultures and broaden horizons without having to leave the house!
- The internet has unlimited information! Just be sure that the information you find is properly referenced with legitimate resources
- Questions to ask yourself: What is the purpose of the site? Who runs and pays for the site? What is the source of the information and who is authoring it?
What to Remember:
- You can’t take all information at face value: As previously mentioned, it’s important to double check the resources and references that were used for that piece of information – the web can be full of misunderstood or unsubstantiated information
- Everyone experiences COPD differently: Just because one person shares their bad experience with a drug, a doctor, or a procedure, it does not mean you will have that same bad experience. But same goes for the alternative; unfortunately, there is no “miracle drug” or “magic pill” that works for everyone, so take caution when someone says they’ve found the COPD “cure.”
- Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back: Sometimes people view social media as an anonymous space, but information shared on the internet is rarely anonymous and is nearly impossible to delete. Be careful not to say or share too much, including personal information (such as address), illegal activities, or the details of your schedule
- Social media is full of extremes: Status updates and photos represent a moment in time – that moment might be a brief, emotional reaction to a bad situation, or a snapshot of a rare smile during an otherwise rough day. I like the quote: “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to another person’s highlight reel” Basically, try not to compare your daily ups and downs to the filtered life that someone shares online.
The internet is a wonderful invention with unlimited opportunities, many we probably haven’t even thought of yet! Remember to tread lightly, but also have fun!