Facebook. Twitter. Tumblr. Pinterest. LinkedIn. YouTube. The list goes on and on. In today’s Digital Age, we each have an identity that lives online. And year after year, our addiction to digital and social media continues to grow.
But what we share, and whom we share it with, can have all kinds of implications in the offline world, from unifying and empowering to downright embarrassing. We all have different facets to our life: work, family, and now chronic illness – is there a benefit to deciding which parts of ourselves we want certain people in our life to see?
I am a caregiver for my daughter and bad health keeps us home a lot. She does not have multiple sclerosis, but has a chronic condition and lives with constant pain that varies in severity from day to day. Social media helps me stay connected and provides an endless influx of new ideas and thoughts on how to handle the medical and emotional challenges that we face. I interact with other patients and get information that helps me better manage her condition. And the support is invaluable! There is always someone there to prop you up when you need it, or inspire you to keep moving forward. This support helps us heal.
But I sometimes wonder about the digital footprint I am creating, the about me stuff that I am sharing, who is seeing my posts and where our worlds might collide. There are some people I will openly share certain information with, but others not so much. Between Facebook, Twitter, Google and all the platforms and mobile interactions going on, it can seem overwhelming to even try to sort it out. But there are some simple steps you can take to help manage your online persona, and share what you want, with whom you choose.
Taking control of your information flow is a great first step. Take inventory of the various platforms you are on, and the level of control that each one offers.
Facebook has some great privacy and audience selector tools that allow you to decide who sees your posts and who can comment on your page. You can also create lists to organize your contacts so that only certain people can see specific posts. Twitter allows you to select who receives your tweets with their protected tweet function, and did you know that Instagram allows you to remove your photos from Google search?
Keep in mind that options and features are always being updated, so it’s good to check for changes in privacy settings every few months.
When it comes to what we share, and who we share it with, there are so many benefits to finding the channel that works best for you.
Health related groups and MS communities are a great outlet for support and information. Just as important, they can also be a source of refuge and a place to vent. Friends and loved ones may try, but often don’t understand what it really means to live with chronic illness.
Some people are open books, and have no trouble putting it all out there. But if you do not want to share the MS part of yourself with your regular social contacts, then choosing WHERE you engage can help. Remember, you control your online YOU. It is yours and yours alone.
How much of your MS life do you share on social media? Share with us on Facebook.