The idea for this post came suddenly and thoughts that gave grounds for its growth were not positive. About a year ago I found out about the girl named Stacey who’d been struggling with lung cancer for about 2 years by then. She was a group mate of my friend’s boyfriend and also a childhood friend of my former colleague. Yeah, small world.
Stacey died on October 22, 2012. 2 days after I got a newsletter from a local charity service where they mentioned how much money they gathered for her treatment in Israel. I still don’t know why I got so furious but I wrote them back: ”Are you insane?!? She’s been dead for 2 days by now” and then sent messages to my friends not to open this newsletter.
Stacey’s friends earned lots of money on Social Media – they sold their pictures, participated in auctions and contacted this local charity service who arranges dates between the youth if they provide money for charity. Stacey still died and nothing will change it now.
I wanted to change my mood on October 22, 2013 and I just googled: ”how social media saved my life”. And today I am offering you 5 outstanding, inspirational, positive stories that will make you believe in humanity and in Social Media.
Enjoy the ride!
Chris Strouth – Shit, I need a kidney.
Chris Strouth is a columnist at citypages.com whose life turned upside down in 2009. Chris was willing to share his story but his own print deadlines made it an infeasible task for this time.
In 2009 Chris found out that his medical condition leaves much to be desired and that he needs a kidney transplant. Any person would have been lost in such a situation but Chris turned to the place where he felt most comfortable at – Twitter.
The whole operation thing takes lots of efforts on a donor’s side and Chris continued sharing all the details on his blog and Facebook account. In the meantime he was going through a tiresome process of hemodialysis. Some lucky folks who are unaware of what it is can read this Wikipedia article, but basically it’s a procedure that involves waste and water removal from your blood and generally takes 4 hours.
Surprisingly, 19 people replied to Chris’s tweet!
19 people who at times were complete strangers, his lawyers or just people he met at some party months ago. None of them was his relative, family or just a close friend. Just imagine all these 19 people going through medical checks, determining their blood types and stuff of the kind to make a tremendous sacrifice to a person they hardly knew!
One person matched ideally – Scott Pakudaitis. Strangely enough Scott and Chris never met in person before the operation and really saw each other for the first time on a Thanksgiving evening. Both men felt that it was somewhat easier for them to let their communication flow on Social Media till a certain point of time.
Scott even sent Chris a cheering tweet after the operation. When seeing Scott for the first time on a family dinner Chris couldn’t say all he wanted at first and his writing talent collapsed at one time.
Social Media magic worked, Chris has a healthy kidney now thanks to Scott Pakudaitis, Twitter, Facebook, and the inventor of the web. For some people social networks are pure evil or just time-consuming back holes, but for one person Social Media was once a blessing.
Chris Strouth made a video where he tells the whole story and also encouraged me to share it with our readers. So here you go.
Anne-Sophie Reinhardt – eating disorder fighter who found her way back to normal on Social Media.
I got in contact with Anne-Sophie and she eagerly agreed to share her story:
”I’m Anne-Sophie Reinhardt, a professional blogger, vlogger and podcaster, as well as a social media strategist. I’m blogging at http://annesophie.us about body image, self-love, self-compassion and self-acceptance. I’m the author of two books Love Your Body The Way It Is and Beyond Marketing and Building Relationships – How Social Media Saves Lives. I’ve been writing for 3 years now and love my profession with all my heart. I love helping people and changing lives.
In 2007, I was in a deep personal crisis. I had been struggling with a still undiagnosed eating disorder for 10 years, had tried to commit suicide and was deeply depressed. My childhood had been a nightmare due to my brother and I felt helpless, hopeless and just exhausted. When I was ten years old, I went on a diet that began a horrible cycle of eating, not eating, binging, purging, over-exercising and more. By 2007, I was spending my days in bed, not able to get up. I had no energy, was not able to sleep, laugh, eat, enjoy life. I had no friends, no perspective and no hope for the future.
One day, I stumbled upon a podcasting network, gspn.tv, and I started to listen to all of their podcasts. Hearing real people talk about real life and having fun gave me hope. I slowly began to interact with the community, made friends and, step-by-step, I found my way back to life.
I don’t think I would’ve been able to make it through this year had I not found friends online. I was so scared of people and the internet made it safe for me to interact with others, be the real me and share myself, my views and my talents. It also helped me to connect with people who had the same interests as I had – something I hadn’t been able to find prior in my life. Social media was a true blessing for me and enabled me to live the life I live today.
I found my tribe and to this day, I’m friends with them. They know me inside and out and I know them. It doesn’t matter that we all live in different parts of the world, we are true and lifelong friends who go through good times and bad times together.
My plans for the future are to write more books, grow my business and help women all over the world to accept their bodies the way they naturally are. I want to help spark a body image revolution and help all of us be at peace with ourselves again.
My main tip for young women out there is to not give up hope. No matter where you are in your life – if you’re unhappy, depressed, eating disordered, shy, hate your body, unemployed -, there’s always a way out. I’ve had so many hopeless moments in my life and thought I’d never be happy again, but somehow it always worked out. Reach out to others, find your tribe and never, ever give up hope.
Oh, and you are beautiful just the way you are.”
You can also see Anne-Sophie’s video on Facebook to learn more about her life path.
Deborah Kogan – the woman who made doctors say ”Bravo Facebook!” for diagnosing her son’s rare disease.
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a response from Deborah on social networks but still her story is worth sharing. Deborah woke up on one day to find out her son got sick. Even though it was Mother’s Day Deborah brought him to the hospital and while waiting for the doctor took a picture of the son Leo and herself and posted it on Facebook.
Doctors made some tests for strep that turned out to be negative, but still wrote a prescription for the necessary medicine. Next day Leo got worse and was taken to the hospital for some tests. Deborah took another picture of her son and posted it on Facebook again mentioning his symptoms and doctors guesses on what it might really be. Tests didn’t show what kind of disease her son got.
Next day the boy felt even worse and after publishing some of his photos again on Facebook Deborah received a call from her friend who advised to take Leo to the hospital as soon as she could. Her son had the same symptoms and was diagnosed for Kawasaki disease, a rare auto-immune disorder that can be even fatal. Deborah was about to decline this thought but then she got alarming messages and calls from other friends on Facebook who also thought it could have been Kawasaki disease, one of them was a pediatric cardiologist.
Can you imagine a mother coming to the hospital and saying ”Hey, my 3 Facebook friends think it’s Kawasaki disease that my son’s suffering from”? Yet, the doctor said ”Bravo, Facebook!” and confessed he was just thinking about the same as all the tests they’d made for other causes were negative.
Leo was receiving proper treatment for the next 2 months and might face some complications in his future life but still he was saved. Deborah’s friends diagnosed Kawasaki disease on 3-4 day since the first symptoms had appeared. Should doctors started the right treatment on the 5th day the story could have ended up badly.
Some days after Deborah wrote a very touching post on Facebook.
Ann Marie Walsh – homeless in Chicago who changed her life on Twitter.
How often do you normally see homeless people in the streets? How many of them do you think use Social Media? At least one person did and her name is Ann Marie Walsh who’s also known as @padschicago on Twitter.
Ann Marie initially agreed to tell her story but some more time sensitive issues appeared on the radar. Which is why I am taking the responsibility to share her story with you.
Ann Marie became homeless after a crazy succession of dramatic events in her life. She went through a painful divorce process, lost her job and as a result suffered for ages from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
She had been living in the streets of Chicago for about 6 years by the time she found help from a representative of Invisible People project. Ann Marie used Twitter to get in contact with Invisible People and other folks who also supported her on Social Media. Certainly a life of a homeless lady in Chicago gives you few to no possibilities to communicate consistently and periodically.
Ann Marie eagerly shared her homeless experience here and here with not so many details, yet her statements that she preferred to sleep on concrete rather than on grass as it was more convenient definitely makes me review my own life. She spent many years as a lonely homeless woman in Arlington Heights and apparently had to deal with aggressive homeless men more times than she cares to admit.
Life full of danger, despair and with little hope was changed with help of Twitter where she found friends and home. Now Ann Marie embodies a positive image of a homeless person who fought for a normal life in challenging circumstances and won a severe battle.
I’ve come across quite a lot of stories that literally changed the way I envisioned Social Media. Social Media isn’t just a marketing channel; it isn’t just a place where people waste their time on lonely evenings. For some of us it is also one of few paths that can lead to a certain kind of salvation.
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