In a world as connected as ours, friendship spanning across the globe is a simple evolution. This morning I saw that Facebook has surpassed 2 Billion users each month. Taking into account other Social Media platforms such as, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat it is no wonder our modern society has developed into what we take for granted today.
Friendships are formed out of mutual interests, mutual goals & aspirations and an overall sense of “community” with another person. It used to be that friends would meet up and go out to a restaurant, coffee shop or simply to one another’s home. Not to say this has stopped occurring, rather society has greater means to meet up. There are groups within Instagram called PODS, Twitter groups that will engage in conversation through the use of hashtags and of course Facebook groups or forums.
Years ago, I was introduced to an amazing group of individuals through Twitter under the hashtag #ChatMS. This group continues to engage in MS related topics each Monday at 7pm EST. After my first experience with #ChatMS, I quickly saw the value in what the goal of the conversation was. I connected with a wide array of people from across the world whom face same or similar issues with the disease that I do. This experience was life changing for me. I found a venue where I could openly discuss my experiences with the disease while also hearing of others’ battles as well. A concern for some, is that when using Twitter just about anyone can read what you post by searching the hashtag #ChatMS.
To resolve this, the creators behind the Twitter initiative, who previously formed a Facebook private group under the name ‘Must Stop MS!-Keep S’myelin’, created a new Facebook closed group also called, #ChatMS. In this way, the topics and questions could now be engaged on Twitter alongside a closed Facebook group, allowing for greater privacy. A quick search of MS groups online will give a multitude of results. Personally, I have found #ChatMS to be one of my personal favourites. This is not to mean the other groups out there are not supportive, rather I have and continue to build strong friendships from this group. In actuality, #ChatMS has introduced me to various other MS groups which I find great value in! Just as members of these other groups were introduced to the Twitter and Facebook weekly #ChatMS conversations as well.
For myself, Multiple Sclerosis is but just one part of my medical history. Most will know I have experienced seizures in the past related to an MS treatment I was on for some time. I’ve also had the unique experience of Pyoderma Gangrenosum, which I will be speaking to with greater accuracy in the future. Given the rarity of this disease I could not find a similar group to engage with in regards to Pyoderma Gangrenosum. To this day I have yet to find one either. I did put thought into creating my own. Although once looking at the few groups already created, there was little to no discussion over the course of years. I knew from the onset this was an incredibly rare condition, so rare in fact there simply is not a high enough base to engage in continuous conversation.
During my research, I happened across a new (at the time) Facebook group called ‘Medical Musings with Friends’. Once reading what the group was intended for, I joined. Just as with #ChatMS, I was immediately pulled in. Pulled in to insightful conversation with those that could relate to my experiences. I have become incredibly close friends with many via this group. Even though the majority of members, at least when writing this, are in Australia. Even with a 16 and 17 hour time difference, new friendships were formed. I was eventually asked by the groups creator if I would like to be a member of the Administration Team, helping to monitor posts, engage with new and existing members as well as be able to add new members requesting to join the group. I was taken back when given this invitation. It may not sound to excitable to some, for me it continues to be an honour.
I have come across countless people that live with a multitude of medical issues. Some live with the same conditions as I do. Multiple Sclerosis, a permanent Ileostomy due to Ulcerative Colitis, Anxiety, Depression etc. Although not one that has had Pyoderma Gangrenosum. Which I suppose is a good thing!
I wanted to speak to this “Modern Friendships” topic to allow others to realize they are not alone in whatever situations they may be experiencing. As more people begin to follow my modest blog, I hope this message is well received. If it were not for Randy Patrick, behind ‘#ChatMS’ and ‘Must Stop MS’ along with Sam Moss, the creator of ‘Medical Musings with Friends’ I would not have made the life long connections I have. These folks and I do share common health related conditions, more so than that we share common interests. Ranging from sports, travel, family life or just back and fourth random conversation as one would have in a traditional Coffee Shop.
For those reading this who may feel lost or alone, take comfort in knowing there is a world of support literally at your fingertips. Likeminded individuals who simply will read what you need to say, and offer advice or a simple modern ear to just listen.
Below are the groups I spoke of, unfortunately I was unable to imbed direct links via WordPress. If you have difficulty finding these groups and wish to join, do not hesitate to send me a message.