Social media is crazy . . . it’s so diverse and used for so many different reasons. It is responsible for establishing friendships (and sometimes enemies), exposing people to new hobbies and interests, and even instigating the civil wars of the Arab Spring! Wow – that is a huge responsibility for social media to carry! When it comes to health, not all social media is created equal. Below, I want to go through my experience with health and the different social media sites.
Facebook was probably the best social media site for health. There were plenty of sites to visit, they were easy to find, and the information they gave seemed reasonably well researched. I particularly liked the page Healthy and Natural World. It had home remedies and good, basic, information regarding foods one should avoid, and foods one shouldn’t avoid. Overall, it was easy to navigate, the various articles were easy to find and read and well written.
In contrast the Facebook, FOURSQUARE may have been the least useful of the sites for gaining information about health. If one conducts a search on health, FOURSQUARE is clearly mostly concerned about connecting the users to retail locations either specializing in healthy foods or exercise, etc. One isn’t going to gain much information in regards to their health. But having said that, if you are in the market for a health food restaurant or grocery store, FOURSQUARE maybe the best place to start.
Meetup is, again, more like FOURSQUARE, in that one would be coming to this site specifically for getting into a group interested in, say healthy living. One may not gain much information about health and healthcare, but they may be able to find a group of runners, hikers, or cyclers who can help one keep fit. For a lot of people, having a buddy to go running with may be all they need to keep them motivated and regular in physical activity. So while Meetup may not provide “information”, it may provide the necessary medium (people, place, and time) in order to keep fit.
Once again, this is much more like Facebook, in that there are many easy to find and navigate pages focused on health, improving health, healthcare, etc. If I had a quick question about what type of exercise is best for weight loss and weight training, Google+ will not disappoint. But the neat thing about Google+ is if I also want to find a cycling group in my local area, a quick search will likely result in a useful search result.
All in all, to me it seemed Facebook and Google+ were the most useful places for health related social media. FOURSQUARE was likely the least useful as I think you could find similar things on Yellowpages.com, Yelp.com or other directory services. Meetup has a very specific task and does a good job of accomplishing that . . . and it’s novel. There were a few things I wanted to discussed based on this week’s interview assignment. My interviewee used social media for health in ways I hadn’t considered . . . detecting an epidemic on a small scale. She used Facebook to see if other kids in her son’s class were experiencing symptoms similar to her son, to see if an “epidemic” were brewing in the class. This seems like a very suitable way to use social media – use the crowd to create a disease pathway.
I also found something in “Here comes everybody” quite interesting . . . this concept of being famous. I have seen enough YouTube channels and Facebook profiles of people are trying to become famous. It is so interesting to me to think of fame as those who have more connections going in than going out. Thinking of Oprah Winfrey replying to all her friends’ Facebook posts seems quite odd to me, but seeing these self-proclaimed up-and-coming social media’ites trying to display their fame is also odd. They try to convince people they are important based on the posts they have and the videos they create. If they truly were famous, they wouldn’t need to act famous . . . they would just be famous. And, being that I am not one to be particularly interested in famous people, I find their acts disingenuous and useless. They come on social media to be famous, rather than to just share in the wealth and utility in social media. This is perhaps why I have a negative perspective of social media (which yes I am working on). I shouldn’t allow those who use the media for self-gain to tarnish the utility of social media. While many now abhor the results of the Arab Spring, no one can argue that the power of social media is INTENSE! because of examples like that. I remember growing up as a Syrian immigrant in America and asking my parents, naively, “why don’t the Syrian people just rise up against their government?” My youth did not allow me to see the prior failed attempts and while this last uprising seemed to be the answer, it too has not seen success. The power of social media is that it brings people together – lots of people! But what those people do when they meet, is up to that group of people. . .