Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master. – Christian Lous Lange
There are many reasons I am very happy I have lived most of my post diagnosed life while the internet existed. I am very grateful for the online support groups that are around now. I can communicate with people around the world who have the same disease as me and often have answers to questions that I am faced with. I have formed friendships with many people online that I have been communicating with for years. I cannot even imagine how isolating, lonely and scary it would have been if I was diagnosed with MS in 1985 where there was no where to look to find people who understood what I was going through. I am sure there were support groups in the community, but it would have taken so much more effort to find them and less likely you would attend them if you were not feeling well. A lot of people who deal with illness, are not able to drive to attend meetings. In this day and age, we only need a computer or phone and an internet connection to find countless people who know what it is like to deal with the things we are facing.
In addition, because of technology we can now look up information on conditions, treatments, new research and find medical professionals. We can find out our test results before our next appointment with specialists. We can keep track of our appointments and schedules on our phones. We can investigate doctor and treatment reviews from others who have already tried them. There are so many ways that the lives of people struggling through the journey with illness have benefited from the creation of new technologies and the internet.
However, with all the positives there are also downsides to technology and the world wide web. Many times in my life I have turned to Dr. Google to answer questions for me when I am in a crisis. When I am stuck in fear of the unknown, I often seek answers from whomever is accessible. Who is ever more accessible than Google? I have frequently found myself going down the rabbit hole of the internet tunnels of “research.” Funny how this doesn’t happen when I am not in a rough spot. What I have found is that a higher percentage of people who are posting online in forums and other venues are often also struggling and not in a great place. I rarely find answers that are helpful when I am in that type of situation. I find I spend hours on the internet frantically searching for what is “wrong” with me. I usually don’t find the answer on the internet. I always find it when I venture out of my home and seek friends or professionals. When my health is not in a good place, my anxiety is usually through the roof as well. I have never found turning to Google helpful. It seems like it is at the time but it is an illusion. What usually allows me to find my way out is time, patience and talking things out with professionals and friends. They see things in a more rational and unbiased way. They point things out to me that are not visible to me in my frantic frazzled state. A rule that I have adapted that has helped me out is that when I am in a relapse or any other type of crisis, I am banned from the internet. I still use the internet a lot. I am using it right now to write this blog entry. I search out things all the time on it and communicate with others everyday. Technology and the internet are whatever you allow it to be. For me, I have found what it is not is a doctor. It is not a friend. It is a tool that when used appropriately is amazing, but when misused at times when I am not making logical decisions, can be disastrous.
Any time when I am spending an immense amount of time searching for answers on the internet, there is usually a problem. Take a look outside in the big world in which we live. There are people waiting to help you find your way through the jungle. You can’t find them if all you are seeing is a search bar.