Dear Social media users

Dear Social Media Users

The power we have at our fingertips should be used wisely. Our words now hold so much more force than ever before. The whispers between friends are now being shared across the globe, gone is the ears of few now to the ears of millions.

Growing up I was lucky to have a wise grandad who once told me “don’t say what you wouldn’t want sharing across a room”. I don’t think he had in mind the expanse of the social media reach but I do feel the concept, the sentiment is the same.

If we realise that nothing we share on these platforms is private maybe then we will less quick to press post, less willing to share.

I sometimes wonder if it’s a good thing, the way a persons innermost thoughts are now shared so widely. How opinions that have been in the shadows are now out in the open.

I worry about the influences on our youth, the perceptions they take as reality leaving them feeling inadequate, not enough.

The cultivation of hate, the rise of right wing hate, religious hateful ideology and the vicious muck spreading of lies. All finding itself a wider audience thanks to the power of virtual connection.

Yet still I don’t hate social media, I really don’t.

It has brought into my life some amazing people. People I wouldn’t have come across in my lifetime, separated by distance or just circumstances . It’s been an incredible resource on my late daughters disability and now my son’s. I’m learning, I have learnt more than I could have imagined most that I would have never have known without this source of knowledge.

It has created communities of support, raised awareness and reached out and brought love to those in need.

But personally I think it has come to a point that we now need to be reminded of authenticity. Times gone by a journalist couldn’t publish a story without having the evidence to prove its claim yet we have only got to look at the press of the recent times to know that this is no longer the case. Smear campaigns, lies and pure fabricated hate is shared across many communication mediums.

I wonder when the ability to write any old rhetoric got confused with the freedom of speech?

I wonder when one person’s opinion became fact?

When one persons fear became hate?

Should we be policing the internet, to be honest I don’t know?

As a person in this country we do have a right to think the way we wish. What we don’t have though is the right to act upon it if it causes harm to another, if it’s malicious in its intent. If it’s to incite hate?

So maybe thats where the policing needs to be, cracking down on those who abuse this form of communication. Those who troll, bully and intimidate others. Those who spread lies and feed the evil of this world. Police those that exploit the vulnerable, predators of any nature to all to face charges of a harsh kind. Intimidation, abuse, torture of any kind physical or virtual should come with the same punishment, a hard one.

But beyond all of this we as people have an obligation to each other to remind ourselves that what we say can be heard beyond the room. That by the words we use, the posts we share we take a responsibility for the substance. We cannot say we did not know anymore, we did not realise.

Ignorance is no longer a defence.

Let’s use social media for the communication it should and can be, one of joy, one of upliftment and one of knowledge.

Be truthful and be kind.

Many thanks

Sara

Are you really my friends?

I’ve been honest here before about my struggle with friendships. How my awkwardness and self doubt has often left me pulling away from friendships. The fear of losing people has often led me to push them away.

I know why I do this, but stopping myself is a whole other battle.

Anyhow I was asked the other day about why I talk about my internet friends so much? Also are they really my friends?

So are you?

I’ve never been the best at friendships, never one for big groups. They just required too much brain power and for me to be out of my own mind more than I was willing. Family commitments and having a lot of siblings just never made me feel the need for large friendship groups. Also the dynamics of social groups mess with my mind. Cliques, status I simply couldn’t be bothered or understand. I often just don’t get people and social situations and I’m lousy at small talk.

So hello internet.

For someone who hates talking on the phone ( a whole other blog post) I found online forums to be freeing. I could chat to who I wanted and when I wanted. The groups were those with similar interests as me or similar lives.

First it was the special needs forums then with Livvy’s diagnosis it became the Rett community and then unfortunately I found myself in the bereaved family forums. All people willing to chat, support and guide me without any pressure on me to be anything but myself.

Then hello social media,

Wow I loved it, again I was given the opportunity to develop friendships with people miles away from me who just got it. Rett moms who cried themselves to sleep after watching their daughters seizure, parents trying hard not to lose their minds with their teenagers.

It was great, until it wasn’t.

I’m not sure what happened but losing Livvy changed the way I viewed the world. I couldn’t do arms length anymore. I needed close, deep friendships but I wasn’t ready. Emotionally I just couldn’t invest time or mind-space into others. I needed to heal, love on my girls and I suppose be a little bit selfish. I couldn’t be compassionate when my heart was broken. I’m sure many other bereaved parents will tell you that one of the hardest moments after losing a child is when you realise the world continues on without your child in it. I struggled with this so I hid away until my anger subsided enough to let me live again.

Hello hashtags

I laugh when writing this but Instagram and hashtags became my best friend. Literally a search engine to likeminded people. I love them, how many times would you expect #seizuresuck to appear, more than you imagine that’s for sure.

#Panhypopituitarism

#hydrocephalus #diabetes insipidus, #cerebralpalsy, visionimpaired #hypothalamicdysfunction #epilepsy

#Chroniclungdisease

#specialneeds

#complexneeds

#disabilityawareness

These hashtags have brought me in contact with some amazing people and now I’m determined not to hide from the friendships I am forming.

I have come across parents with children with complex needs with such a love of life that I cannot help but be excited by them. Their energy is contagious and their children’s smiles so infectious. like myself they live to make the moments matter. Standing up against discrimination and showing that our children matter, all children matter.

I am finding that sometimes it’s easier to be transparent behind a screen, to admit you are struggling when you are not face to face.

I have also seen waves and waves of support literally lift people out of the depths and I’m so proud to call these people my friends.

Yes some relationships I have formed are deeper, some I literally feel are family where others are not so close but I’m equally thankful for.

Some friendships will stay behind a screen and that’s ok but others I’m nervous but so excited to bring into the real world.

But all I value, all matter to me.

So in answer to the question are my internet friends real friends? My answer is this, “Completely, I don’t want to do life without them. “.

Not hiding my boy away

A child breaks their leg, Mom shares image on social media and the comments that follow are full of “bless them” “oh little brave one”. A special needs parent shared their reality and the response is so very different.

Regardless of how people have viewed the coverage regarding Alfie Evans I am getting truly tired of hearing “you shouldn’t show photos like that” “who wants to see a sick child”.

It’s comments like this that makes us special needs parents feel we have to hide in the shadows. It’s ok to share a photo of a normal (I hate that description) healthy child with a broken leg but how dare you share a complex kid?

Comments like “it’s made me feel uncomfortable” are driving me crazy. I’m sorry my life is making you uncomfortable, I apologize that my child’s feeding tube makes you look away. That you feel sad that you have to think of children in situations like this.

Jog on,

Our children are gifts, if we want to share and journal every step of their journey we have the absolute right to. If we want to share our fear, pain and worries we will.

It’s comments like those written above that left me struggling alone with Livvy. It’s attitudes like this that stopped me reaching out to be supported.

It’s not happening again, I will not hide my beautiful boy from those that are sharing our journey with me. I will not allow myself to feel isolated again. As far as I’m concerned if you don’t like what you see or read, don’t follow.

I am so thankful for the community of parents whose children have complex needs here on social media. For the wide-awake club who keep me company in the endless early hours. Those that have been there that can advise or encourage me and for those that just get it.

Social media has brought the world closer, its connections have brought me friends I love dearly that I have yet to touch or hug, but they have pulled up when I’ve been feeling down, wrapping me up in encouragement and love.

Yes, social media has it low points but the community of parents with children with special needs have been a lifeline to me. I love seeing photos of their beautiful children, love sharing in their moments both good and the hard. Love being given the opportunity to support and encourage them as they do me.

So, will I let those that “feel uncomfortable” stop me from being part of this amazing community, no chance I love my people.

Will I hide my child from the world, no way he is too blooming gorgeous?

 

 

 

 

Know your own value.

Dear teenagers,

There is nothing more than I hate to see then you posting photographs on social media asking for likes. Your need to get reassurance from others. The value you place in the number you receive really worries me.

facebook like button

You cannot allow your self worth to be based on a number.

The world of social media is a fickle place someone may not like your photo for reasons that are way beyond you, but the fact is, that is irrelevant.

You need to know your own worth!

To know how truly amazing you are.

Post as many photos as you want but love them yourself.

Know that what you see is a beautiful, handsome incredible individual.

Know that each and every one of you is an amazing unique person.

That your life is worth so much more than a like or twenty, in fact no number can hold your value.

You are priceless.

Go ask your parents for a number that holds your value, they couldn’t give you one as their love for you infinite.

Go ask your best friends to number your friendship, believe me when I say true friendship  is beyond any number.

This world is so quick to put a number on things, from the latest iPhone to designer clothes.

This is not true value.

Your smile, the twinkle in your eyes, the sound of your laughter this is what people will remember.

A new dress will become last seasons fashion, a kind giving heart will be cherished forever.

Hey I’m not saying don’t share that photo of you in your new top, coat, jeans hey we all do, personally a good make up day is always a share for me.

It’s not about not posting, its about why you post.

Post because you feel good, post because you are happy with the way you look, post because you just want to.

Don’t hold on for likes, know you are liked and loved.

The number does not hold your value because it cannot,

Because simply you are priceless. 

Priceless