I’ve often thought if I had to vote on whether the Internet or the personal computer has had a bigger impact on our lives, I’d have to go with the Internet. There’s no doubt the computer had a huge impact on productivity. I’m old enough to remember using a typewriter and Wite-Out fluid to correct errors, and that’s just one small example. (Anyone else out there remember Wite-Out?)
But I’d have to go with the Internet for two reasons. First, because it’s a terrific research tool–as long as you take it with a grain of salt. I read somewhere that getting on the Internet is like sitting at a bar with a drunk on one side and a Ph.D. on the other side, and I believe that. I’ve seen product sales sites come up higher in searches for certain conditions than the Mayo Clinic, for example. My best advice for those of us who go online to research our conditions is to discuss everything we find with our doctors. That’s what I did when I was diagnosed with DCIS, although I stuck to reputable sites like Mayo.
But the biggest reason I’d have to vote for the Internet is what it’s done for the way we communicate with each other. My blog is just one of a legion of examples of women sharing our cancer experience. Catherine Morgan, who blogs about health at Blogher, recently posted a list of some great survivor blogs.
The thing about blogging and other social media is that at its best, it’s a conversation. It never fails to knock me out how we are able to reach out both to long-lost friends and people we don’t know and may never meet in person.
Judy Cross and Hillary T are two of them. Judy responded to my post about whether you need a double mastectomy for a stage 0 cancer. She chose the bilateral option for peace of mind, and I know others who have made the same choice. Hillary was facing a mastectomy and she’s only 25 years old. For a 25-year-old to even have to think about this is wrong on too many levels to count. I hope reaching out this way brought them some measure of comfort.
You may notice that my blog has a Google Translate link so you can read it in Spanish. I did that as a result of a comment from a wonderful young man, Fernando Alfonso, who posted a comment and told me he and his mom were translating my posts into Spanish for his grandmother.
It’s hard to express how much these comments mean to me. Everyone who blogs is tossing out a message in a bottle to some extent. When it comes back it truly feels like a blessing. And for all its commotion and traffic, this is the real beauty of the Internet.