You won’t find the healthiest social media on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, social iPhone apps or PatientsLikeMe.
Oh, they’re great tools for finding other people, sharing experiences and searching for information – if you know how to use them wisely.
No, the healthiest social media are:
Fresh air – it’s good to breathe and it’s the medium of choice for propagating good, warm conversation.
Hands – they’re made for making, from art to the signals between two people. It’s the medium of choice when rescuing your death from loneliness. It was a pair of hands that greeted and held you when you arrived, serving as the medium between the warm heaven inside your mother’s womb and the cold purgatory outside.
Eyes – they see and are seen, they’re the media which at once both receive the world’s visual messages and convey the brain’s emotions. Beautiful media they are, what clear tears they create out of dark pains. When you’re told that a cancer you never heard of has spread to places you never knew existed, that look in the physician’s eye can make a world of difference in how you look upon the rest of your mortal days.
Ears – they hear, but aren’t heard. They’re silent listeners. They’re the media which help to transform erratic ripples of airwaves into the intelligible sounds that inform your life. They’re the medium through which music sympathizes with the beats of your heart. Grief without music – how could we manage as a species?
Lips – they make words possible; they make love palpable and intimate. They are the medium through which our voices are heard – our anger, our courage, our fear, our hope. Lips move worlds.
Screw Social Media: Twitter doesn’t matter, nor Facebook, nor any of these artificial media.
Electronic media are digital.
You are not digital. You are not zeros and ones, ons and offs. You are a spectral medium of something larger than yourself.
You are, in a word, alive.
So use the healthiest social media to their fullest:
Tell that girl you’ve had a crush on how you feel about her – in person.
Tell that person who wounded you years ago that they’re forgiven, that peace in our world begins with yourself, that your love exceeds your hate – in person. Or, if you’re not ready for that, write a hand-written letter to that person without sending it yet, tuck it away and then read it to yourself one day. You might see something your eyes didn’t catch before.
Tell a stranger at Starbucks tapping wildly on that iPad that it’s OK to stop tweeting, that it’s a lot more fun to randomly go grab a beer across the street and trade dirty jokes. Nobody reads his dopey tweets anyway.
Tell a nurse at a hospital who works too many shifts for too little pay for too many patients that it’s not his or her fault that patient care is sub-par. Thank the nurses, thank the doctors, thank the speech pathologists, thank the sanitation crew – thank as many people as you can who’ve chosen to serve their fellow mates. (And, for the love of G-d, do NOT tweet about it! – just do it. Nobody reads your tweets either.)
You’d be surprised what you can do with a breath of fresh air, your hands, your eyes, your ears, your lips.
Use them if you have them.
Every day is a gift that we forget to open when we close our eyes or open our laptops too wide.
Every day is a medium. It’s the medium which not only impacts its message onto you – it’s one you get to stamp your whole life into.
These are the media that propagate the waves that will buoy our healthcare and drive the changes we will desperately need in this Century of Social Fricken Media.
Health is social. Technology…not so much.