Spinal Cord Injuries/Secondary Health Issues/Social Media

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I decided I would make my last blog a very personal subject to me. I suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident 30 years ago, on Canada Day, at Wasaga Beach, north of Toronto. I was only 20 years old at the time, and, needless to say, it changed my life forever. After spending a year in the hospital, and spinal rehab hospital, I have been fortunate enough to be able to live on my own, with the help of caregivers, who come to my home to assist me with daily living activities. This allows me to live an independent life, and devote the majority of my time towards helping find a cure for paralysis. Most people look at a spinal cord injury and see that the individual is paralyzed and cannot walk. However, a spinal cord injury goes way beyond just not being able to walk. That is the point I am trying to emphasize. There are countless secondary health issues associated with spinal cord injuries. Personally, among the health related issues that I’ve had to deal with, include, four bouts of pneumonia, skin pressure sores, scoliosis, osteoporosis, venal blood clots, sleep apnea, partially collapsed lung, countless UTIs, and digestion issues, just to name a few. I wanted to mention this because there needs to be an emphasis on the education of spinal cord injuries as it relates to secondary health issues, as these are the issues that ultimately kill people with spinal cord injuries. Back when my injury occurred, there was very little knowledge on how to deal with all of these issues. Fortunately, though, research and awareness has brought a lot of attention towards these health issues, as a result, greatly improving the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation website provides some easy understand details concerning secondary health issues associated with spinal cord injuries.

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Everyone with an injury who suffers paralysis, of course, dreams of being able to walk again, and function like a normal able-bodied person. However, in the meanwhile, just being able to improve the quality of life, and still live life to the fullest is an immediate priority. There will always be barriers for any individual who is confined to a wheelchair, but it does not need to prevent you from living a full prosperous life. Prior to social media, the only way the general public learned anything about spinal cord injuries was by either reading, or seeing it on the news.  Usually it would only be in the news if there was some kind of medical breakthrough, or, unfortunately, if someone well-known or famous happened to suffer a spinal injury. The best example of this would be when actor Christopher Reeve broke his neck in an equestrian accident. This was a high-profile celebrity, who suffered a catastrophic injury. Despite being completely paralyzed, and unable to breathe on his own, he became a champion for spinal cord injury and awareness, up until his death seven years after his injury.  His death was the result of sepsis, another secondary health issue.

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Since then, the onset of social media has dramatically improved education, awareness, and as a result, research initiatives towards helping individuals enjoy quality of life. The organization I work with, Canadian Spinal Research, is very active on social media, in an effort to create awareness for spinal injury research. Our social media platforms include, Facebook, Twitter, our Blog, and even Instagram. The CSRO Blog provides a great range of information for anyone living with a spinal cord injury. We have also transitioned from fundraising events that require participants to actually come and take part in an event, to include online campaigns, including donate a photo campaigns, and online 50/50 draws. This is a great way to appeal to a larger audience, while avoiding the logistics of putting an actual day of event together. I certainly see a point where all of our fundraising is essentially done online through social media. So I think a great question to ask, for my own personal knowledge even, is if you have identified a charitable cause that you would like to contribute to somehow, would your preference to be to support the charity through some kind of online donation-type campaign, through a social media platform, or by participating in an actual event? Such as a golf tournament, or a benefit concert, or any other type of event that would require you to come out in person.

They’re Watching and Recording Everything You Do

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I thought an interesting topic for this blog, that I have had personal experience with, would be the theory that smart devices can actually see and / or hear what is going on in your home. But I also would like to focus on how this also pertains to social media. I have two examples that are a little scary when you really think about it. I was with a friend, and they were helping me sort stuff that I had under my couch, that I had pretty much forgotten about. My friend found a package of empty gel capsules, that I had bought like three years ago, to use for a supplement that I was trying. I completely forgot that I had them. Anyways, my friend pulled them out and I said yeah let’s just throw them in the closet somewhere, because I really had no use for them now. Later that day, I was on my computer, on Facebook, and, incredibly, I saw an ad on my Facebook page from Amazon advertising empty gel capsules. It goes without saying that I see countless ads on my computer, on Facebook, my homepage, or otherwise, but I had never ever seen an ad for gel capsules. And the fact that it was on there, literally hours after I had found them under my couch, and briefly talked about it with my friend, blew me away. My other example involves a close friend. She was home cooking Korean BBQ on her own, no one around or anything like that. She has cooked Korean BBQ before, so did not need to do any research whatsoever on the internet to learn how to cook. She told me she was on YouTube later that night, and sure enough, on the recommended videos, there was a tutorial on Korean BBQ. The incredible thing is, she does not own a TV, just a laptop, and her phone. So here are two startling examples of the fact that we were just doing something completely random in our homes, and, within hours, each of us was subjected to advertisements and video recommendations of what we were doing and talking about.

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It’s incredible to know that everything you do, and say in your home is actually being monitored. There is some debate on which devices are capable of monitoring your home activities. In my case, I own a smart TV, a Google Home, and Amazon Echo, and, of course, my phone and computer. So it is entirely possible that any or all of those devices could be monitoring the day-to-day activities that occur in my home. The question is, is it something that you should be concerned about? An interesting article from howtogeek.com discusses whether this intrusion is something that you should worry about.

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In terms of how this relates to social media, it is clear by the examples that I provided, the various social media platforms are part of this so-called ‘conspiracy.’ They seem to be the benefactors of this data that is compiled by your devices. With my examples, advertisements and recommendations showed up on Facebook and YouTube. That would indicate that these companies are all working together; the manufacturers of the devices provide the data to the social media platforms, and then you are presented with that advertisement or recommendation, in an effort to influence, and grab your attention. A fascinating article on iot-now.com discusses how data collected by smart home devices is used on social media platforms to improve targeted marketing strategies.

Personally, I have more or less conceded that the trade-off for increased technology, that allows for an improved in-home experience, is that you have little or no privacy now. I am confident that nothing goes on in my home that is so out of the ordinary that I need to worry about what data is collected. I am simply not that interesting. But I would love to hear from everyone, how do you feel about the fact that everything that goes on in your home is being recorded and stored? Is it simply a case of, this is the world we live in? Or, does it upset and concern you, to the extent that you will take steps to maybe limit the types of devices that are in your home, and what they will be able to record?

The Future of Social Media

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I’ve always been fascinated contemplating the future and what lies in store for humanity. Certainly, the most significant increase in technology in my lifetime has been with computers. Computers are a billion times more efficient than they were 50 years ago. And that technology is improving at an exponential rate. Moreover, we have seen social media explode, almost like the Big Bang, since the birth of Facebook 16 years ago. When you look at the incredible influence Facebook has on humanity, combined with the multitude of other social media platforms, I thought an interesting topic would be to explore the future of social media.

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Before that though, I think it is important to look at the future technology that will host and serve as the vehicle for the future of social media. We are already seeing the early stages of wearable technology. Devices, such as, Fitbit, Apple watches, and the Google Glasses are in the very early stages, but they allow for limited communication without the need of a screen-based device that you need to carry. The wearable technology that is most likely to become readily available in the near future include; rings, smart bracelets, smart watches, and eyewear that will be capable of providing more content and interaction then current technology. Along with this wearable technology, voice recognition will become a basic component, allowing the individual to manage every aspect of the device simply by speaking to it.


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These devices will allow for a rapid integration of social media into our daily lives. It’s predicted that within 4 years, 2.44 billion people will be connected in some fashion with social media. While no experts in the field deny the fact that social media will become a fabric of our being in the near future, and long-term future, there are a number of different opinions on to what extent, and in which manner social media will exist. Virtual reality technology will allow us to experience news breaks in real time, and allow us to be there in the moment while it’s happening. There is some consensus from experts that 20 years from now the term social media will become obsolete, along with many of the platforms that exist today, such as, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Mass media will rule the day, while the internet, and access to data, will be as commonplace as electricity, accessible by voice. We will be able to share personalized experiences with each other, such as taste, touch, and smell. This will be possible with the use of wearable devices, and even devices that can be implanted inside of us. As scary as that sounds. https://www.cnbc.com/2014/10/02/11-predictions-on-the-future-of-social-media.html

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As far as my own visions of the future of social media, I firmly believe that technology will play a huge role in terms of social media. You’ll never have to worry about losing your device, as you’ll likely be wearing it. Social media will become a basic human function. It will likely be the platform in which children are taught in school. Quite possibly negating the need for schools even. School could be virtual. In the workplace, virtually every job will include some aspect of social media. Whether it is sales, marketing, or any type of communication with customers or otherwise, it will all be controlled through social media. Or whatever form social media takes in the future. Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by science fiction TV shows and movies to get different interpretations of the future. Is it possible we may get to that point in their existence much quicker than Hollywood predicts? I would love to hear any comments as well as your own predictions for the future of social media.



7 Predictions For the Future Of Wearable Tech and Social Media Integration

Matthew Peneycad-Matthew Peneycad – https://www.business2community.com/social-media/7-predictions-future-wearable-tech-social-media-integration-0737768

11 Key Predictions on the Future Of Social Media

Benjamin Wachenje – https://www.cnbc.com/2014/10/02/11-predictions-on-the-future-of-social-media.html

Life Before And After Social Media

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I figured a logical topic for my first ever blog should be a subject I am very familiar with; life before and after social media. I had always been fascinated over the years talking to my grandparents about technological advances that had occurred in their lives. They had seen some pretty dramatic changes, such as the ability to reach outer space, television, and of course, computers, just to name a few. My grandmother always called computers magic. I am 50 years old, so computers were just becoming mainstream tools as I reached my teenage years. It was pretty special to own a personal computer back then. Of course, now it’s unusual to see a household that does not have a computer of some sort. Although, these days you can probably even get by without a computer, as your mobile device can do just about everything a computer can. During my teenage and early adult years, there were three primary forms of communication; talking on the phone, talking to someone in person, and actually mailing a letter. There was no method of communicating or expressing your thoughts, or whatever happened to be going on in your life, to a mass audience. If you wanted know what any of your friends were up to, you had to give them a call. The result was you might not have such a large network of friends that you may have now courtesy of social media, but, inevitably, those friendships you did have were much closer, and more intense. One of my regular favourite things to do after school was to meet up with a bunch of friends at the mall and just hang out. That’s how we would find out what was going on with other people we knew, as well as any kind of gossip or otherwise.

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I consider the most significant difference before social media was the fact that I did not know one person who suffered from any kind of anxiety, social, or otherwise. Certainly some friends of mine were happier than others, and much of that was attributed to how popular you were, and if you had a girl/boyfriend or not; not entirely dissimilar to today. However, even if you didn’t have a large social network, or you weren’t Mr. or Miss. popular, you still had a circle of close friends. Despite being 50, I have a number of friends who are a generation before me, in their twenties. I can safely say that I know more people who do suffer from some degree of anxiety than I know people who don’t have any issues with that.

There are some phenomenal benefits that come with social media, but there is also significant pressure. Now it is easy to say, oh, who cares how many Facebook friends I have, or how many likes my Instagram post got, but society now judges people in that regard. In particular, the millennial generation has seen a rise in suicides that could very possibly be linked to social media pressure. https://nypost.com/2017/11/14/rise-in-teen-suicide-connected-to-social-media-popularity-study/

I will be the first to admit though that I find myself taking notice of how many likes, or comments I get with an Instagram or Facebook post. Fortunately, it doesn’t cause me to lose sleep or anything, but it’s very easy to see, particularly for the younger generation, how it could become all-consuming.

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Now it’s not all doom and gloom. Social media has more benefits than drawbacks, as is the case with most technological improvements. The key is to not succumb to the pressures that are represented. I am very thankful that I can literally reach out to hundreds of friends at the touch of a button. I have dozens of friends that I grew up with, went to school with, and have lost touch with, in terms of person-to-person contact, that I am now able to see what’s going on in their life. And if I want to reach out to them, a quick message does the job. Personally, the one aspect of social media I appreciate the most is that it is fun. It’s fun to be able to post pictures from any occasion or anything like that, and to be able to share with so many people. Professionally, social media has proven to be an invaluable resource for myself, and my fundraising endeavours. So, my question to everyone is twofold, for those, like myself, who grew up without social media, if you had a choice, would you prefer life when it was simpler without social media, or life today with all those tools at your disposal? And for those of you who have essentially grown up with social media, can you picture a life without it? For example, you would have to call someone if you wanted to find out how they’re doing. And if you wanted to share pictures, you had to go to a camera store to get them developed, take them, meet with your friend, and show them. Really look forward to hearing people’s viewpoints on all that.