Selfies and Stigmas: Living With A Disease In The Social Media Age
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]aying that living with a disease is incredibly difficult is a bit of an understatement. It will be the biggest challenge you will ever face. The emotional repercussions are difficult to understand alone, and the treatment that you have to endure can be draining on you physically and mentally. You may feel that you wouldn’t want to burden people with the information and may feel that you have to lock yourself away and feel sorry for yourself. Don’t! You can accomplish so much. Many people who are living with disease are using the opportunity to do the things they never had the guts to do before, like skydiving. But if that doesn’t appeal to you, then campaigning for awareness is one way to make the most of your condition. In the modern world, we can use the power of the internet to gain more awareness.
The world we live in now is dominated by social media. Some would lambast the problems that social media has caused, saying that it is bad for our children, and it is turning them into people that are underdeveloped in terms of people skills, that these people sit indoors all day and don’t go out to play. But then there are the other camp of people that say social media is a great tool, and specifically a tool for awareness for the important issues. Things like mental health and cancer were discussed 20 years ago, sure. But now we have the ability to communicate it as far as we can make it go. So how is the power of social media helping to break down barriers in living with disease? The great thing about social media and the internet, in general, is the ability to communicate a message far and wide, and this is why charities are harnessing the power of social media more than advertising campaigns these days. The immediacy of it helps to get people’s support, and as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge showed a few years ago, that people are willing to go to very uncomfortable lengths for a great cause, and with the amount of donations exceeding $100 million, it clearly has shown social media to be a great campaigning tool for awareness of a disease. Another reason that the internet is a useful tool is that it is a well of information. A site like http://www.mesotheliomahelp.org gives you detailed information on what the disease of mesothelioma is. By gaining a better understanding of your condition, you can learn to manage it as best as you can.
The final positive about the internet in terms of breaking down barriers about disease is that it can give you a warts and all perspective, which helps to bring the point home. There are many people that do no make-up selfies to help to challenge the views and stereotypes of women. And many people that live with disease create detailed blogs about their experiences. These are things that we need to combat the stigmas attached to living with disease. It’s not about hiding yourself away; it’s about being open and free to say “this is me.”