My generation has grown up in an age of innovation unlike any other. When I was born, personal CD players were the height of technology, whilst iPods (nevermind iPads), smartphones and webmail accounts were but a glimmer in the eye of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates et al. But today, digital communication has become a necessary part of daily life, and one’s online reputation is just as important as an ability to pass exams and turn up on time for a job.
The emergence of social media has changed lives, as well as the way in which brands communicate, but it’s not sites such as Facebook and Twitter which have had the greatest influence on my life (unless it’s Eurovision night. Or the Olympics. Or there’s a Y in the day…). My digital footprint truly began to evolve when I joined a support forum.
The people I met via Scoliosis Support didn’t just guide me through a medical procedure and recovery, they became my friends. Even now, many people are still suspicious of friendships and other relationships which begin with the click of a mouse, but my opinion is that, just as it’s possible to back away from those you no longer wish to associate with who you met “in real life”, the same can be done with those you became introduced to digitally.
I bonded with others in a search for information, a mission to reassure myself prior to a life-changing experience, and found my life changing in ways I hadn’t anticipated. My new friends visited me when I was in hospital (and I have returned the favour where possible). I had attended the wedding of one of my forum friends (we’ve also bonded over handbags and cocktails) – whilst chatting about a defining factor that we share and have in common, we also realised that there are other interests we also share.
My friends at Scoliosis Support allowed me to become less afraid of this modern method of forming relationships, and allowed me to branch out further into the world, as well as supporting me through a difficult time. In the same way that my family provide unconditional and irreplaceable support, my extended online family have also offered their input, without which I would have been lost.
I was discharged from my surgeon’s books six years ago, and it can now be weeks rather than hours since I previously checked in with my friends at the forum, but I know that I can rely upon their honesty, expertise (the internet isn’t just a pack of lies) and warmth whenever I need it.