We’ve all been scolded for being on our phones, laptops and tablets. In this current age of rampant technology, it is understandable that these convenient devices can inhibit human interaction. While this is a growing issue, there is another side to this conversation that no one seems to be discussing.
What if technology was your only source of social interaction?
What if a disability, disease or mental health challenge inhibited your ability to have regular social interactions.
To these folks, a computer, tablet or cell phone may be the single source of not only entertainment, but also friendship and connection to other human beings.
Isolation is one of the most difficult parts of having any disability or illness. Not being able to socialize like we once did is a difficult card to be dealt, along with life long, incurable illness.
Most of us, before our diagnosis led very social, exciting lives. Most of us have had to mourn not only the life we once knew, but the friends that isolation took with it.
This is why it is SO important to keep in touch with your disabled friends and family and never judge them for the amount of time they spend on technology.
You never know how one text message or phone call can make a difference in someones life, for the good or bad.
For example. as a former career oriented women with a robust social life, since my diagnosis of Adrenal Insufficiency caused by my congenital disorder, Medullary Sponge Kidney I have had to reclaim a new life. I am no longer able to work a full time job and am mostly homebound. Due to health, I was forced to move away from my home state and am isolated in a foreign place for access to rare medical treatment. Texts, phone calls and social media are the main way I communicate with my friends and loved ones now. My extroverted soul aches in the isolated four walls I live in now.
I recently texted one of my loved ones, repeatedly, with no response.
I know it shouldn’t, but since that is my only source of communication with people, it hurts my feelings sometimes when people seem to be too busy for a three second reply.
This person’s response to my repeated text was “Sorry, I try not to be on my phone much.”
And I thought. “What a luxury.”
I miss the days where I didn’t have time to look at my phone because I was so busy running the geriatric home I was the director for. I was so busy perusing my degree in medicine I didn’t have time to scroll through social media. I was out in the world. I was an extrovert who was allowed to be extroverted.
Now, texts, calls, FB messages etc are my sources of social interaction, other than my weekly treatments at the hospital.
Social media and phones can be a source of JOY or a source of STRESS. It’s all in HOW you use it. It’s all in what you expose yourself to. It’s all in the people and content you ALLOW in your life.
If you are homebound and isolated, please don’t feel alone. There are many communities and support groups that understand the struggles you may be facing.
You are never alone, even if your only friends are in your phone 😉
Another point to be made is how important streaming services and TV can be in the life of someone chronically ill.
I know we all have felt guilt at some point for how much binge watching we’ve done, but honestly this practice has it’s place!
There are days where I am in so much pain and feel so miserable from my disease that I have to have a distraction. My mental health depends on it. Sometimes, watching a comedian on netflix or a comforting classic movie is a much needed distraction for those of us who struggle with difficult diseases or disabilities.
There’s only so many deep breathing exercises, meditation and yoga you can do and sometimes you just need to rest and recuperate.
I know sometimes we feel guilty for the amount of resting we do, but when you battle a disease 24/7 365 with no remission, it is completely okay to need a distraction in your life.
If netflix, youtube, hulu or whatever is that distraction for you, by all means please do not feel guilt over that. You deserve to rest. You deserve to be able to enjoy movies, shows and entertainment just like the healthy people.
I will close with two messages:
1- Don’t let anyone berate you about being on technology if you are using it for POSITIVE reasons.
That being said, if technology and social media is becoming a source of stress, it’s ok to cut back on it. Just don’t isolate yourself completely. You deserve to be heard, understood and loved.
2- If you love someone who is homebound, sick or disabled, respond to their texts, messages and phone calls when you can.
I get it, you’re busy. But we should never be too busy to let someone know we care Sending a text takes 3 seconds, but it could make someones whole day! Make people you love a PRIORITY. Especially those with chronic health issues, they may value your efforts even more. <3
Wishing you hope, healing and happiness!
To read more from Winslow you can visit her website-