The Power of Social Media

Let me tell y’all about this woman right here. deana-hendrickson Deana Hendrickson came into my life at a time when I was so consumed by grief I couldn’t see straight. I was hanging out on Twitter, trying to find some answers about lung cancer and trying to figure out how this happened and trying to figure out what to do next. Deana was angry, just like me. Angry that lung cancer had just taken her mom. But Deana was angry enough to do something about it. My intro to lung cancer advocacy was no accident. It was because of my sister Deana that I became an advocate. I had a voice, but no where to share it until she asked me if I would be interested in working with her and Janet Freeman-Daily and two doctors (Dr. David Tom Cooke and Dr. H. Jack West) as they try to navigate this social media ‘thing’. Deana created a movement on Twitter for lung cancer patients and caregivers. I love her deeply. And oh, yea, we’ve never met in person, but not a week has gone by in two years that we’ve not communicated. The power of social media and the love of our mothers. It’s something fierce. 

Read about Deana in “Profiles In Lung Cancer” for Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Why I Love Twitter, Despite The Trolls

When I joined Twitter in 2010 (has it been that long?) I did so because it was the next big thing to do on social media. But I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t understand why one would limit conversations and interactions online to just 140 characters. Who does that in real life? And what did that really mean? Also, I couldn’t possibly figure out why anyone would want to follow me (and I still don’t). But, I decided that even though it sounded crazy, I would try it. During that long, long time of being unemployed I had plenty of time to goof off and learn about tweeting, retweeting and modifying tweets (while also looking for a job, mind you). As a matter of fact, had I actually been working, I probably wouldn’t have ‘met’ half the people I know on Twitter and I definitely wouldn’t be as tech savvy (whatever that means) as I am now. I know that Twitter has come under fire because of the overwhelming presence of trolls and other nasty elements. But just like in real life, I’ve learned to ignore the negative stuff I see and I just choose not to follow those whose tweets give me headaches. Don’t need the stress.

Notwithstanding the trolls, below are the top five reasons why I love Twitter:

 5.  I’m not immediately expected to ‘do’ anything. No liking, no posting, no commenting, no replying to previous replies. Sometimes I just want to read a story, without being a part of that story, if that makes sense.

4.  I can pick any subject or word, attach a hashtag to that word, follow that hashtag and learn anything I want to know (from Emmy nominations to the top NFL draft picks to the latest political uprisings to the top tech gadgets). And I love it! And then I can stop following that hashtag…no commitment, no questions asked. And I love it!

3.  I learn so much by following diverse people who have taken immensely different paths in life than I’ve taken. I follow thoracic oncologists and surgeons, engineering and science nerds and legal geniuses. And some of them they actually follow me back!

2.  I love that Twitter is a ‘real-time’ tool that allows you to find out what’s going locally or globally (24-7). And for a news junkie nerd like me, that gives me an intellectual high.

1.  Through my Twitter group #LCSM (Lung Cancer Social Media) I ‘met’ some of my closest friends who have been on this lung cancer advocacy journey with me since losing my mom to this disease in 2012. We’ve laughed and we’ve cried and I’ve never met a single one of them, ever. But if anything ever happened to them, I’d fall to pieces. My #LCSM Twitter buddies are folks I love for real and they are the ones I know I’d be BFFs in IRL (in real life). I don’t regret that lung cancer brought us all together. It actually makes me happy to know that a tiny bright spot can emerge out of something awful and dark like cancer.

Twitter has been a safe haven that doesn’t require much of me. And sometimes that’s all I’m looking for in a virtual relationship.