When I got sick, especially when I was completely undiagnosed, I felt confused, lost and alone. Unsure what was happening to me and lonely because I was mostly house bound, I didn't know where to turn to. At the time I was very into Tumblr, so I began to search through the 'chronic illness' tag to try to find some people I could relate to. There not only did I make a few friends, I learned about a huge community of people with chronic illnesses who go by 'spoonies'. This is based off The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserando (link: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/) which helps describe what daily life is like living with a chronic illness to friends and family. As I got more into Instagram, I slowly became part of that chronic illness community. There I met people of all ages, from all around the world, with all different illnesses. At 20 years old in Canada I became friends with spoonies everywhere; among them a 13 year old with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome from Pennsylvania, a 55 year old with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease from New York, a 16 year old with Cystic Fibrosis all the way from England, and many more. Would I ever have known these wonderful people had it not been for social media? Doubtful! Not only did I gain friendship, I also gained valuable information that led to finally getting the treatment I needed. Friends with similar illnesses who lived in my country were able to point me toward doctors who changed their lives who could hopefully change mine. We were able to share stories and share resources. We also had an idea of what the other was going through and were able to rant to each other on hard days.
So to the nay-sayers,
Yes, if there's a beautiful sunset in front of us we should put our phone down and take it in. If we're spending time with a loved one, we should put our focus on them and enjoy the company. But the internet has not changed the world for the worse. Social media isn't a burden on society. Social media has allowed people like me to get the help they need. Social media has brought people in similar situations together from opposite sides of the world. Social media is a gift. I would be undiagnosed and know many less special people in my life had it not been for social media. Thanks to social media, we are not alone.