Using social media

How people interact with each other is the most profound example of what is possible nowadays. Just about everyone, at some point, has used the Internet to connect with other individuals with mutual interests, hobbies, or who are going through certain life events, and many participate on social networking sites like Facebook.

Being able to find out how others are doing with ME/CFS or FM, share experiences, ideas or information, receive or give encouragement, and make new friendships makes a huge difference in the lives of chronically ill people. Many live alone or may not have anyone around them who truly understands.

Illness-specific discussion boards can be very helpful. Start out with well-known organizations that offer this service—most of these will be monitored and participants will be asked to register and to introduce themselves. Over the last couple of years, there are more webinars (usually free) for which you can register to view and learn.

As far as Facebook goes, use common sense and discretion—create privacy settings which limit access to your account to “confirmed” friends, don’t reveal too much about yourself or your doings, and be careful about using applications (apps) and games because they take you and your account info into an independent site.

Also watch what you click on/agree to, because some activities/sites will charge a fee. Long-distance phone calls (including international ones) are much cheaper when using Skype—this program allows calls to go through the internet to land lines and mobile phones. If friends or family live far away and travel is difficult, Skype is a way to make video calls, as long as both parties are set up on Skype and have a simple webcam on each end.

Do try to take advantage of today’s technology (including assistive tools, like voice-activated software) to help decrease the isolation and loneliness that comes with ME/CFS or FM.