NHBPM Day Ten: To declare or not to declare? That is the question…

Welcome to the 10th post of the annual ‘National Health Blog Post Month’!!  One of the prompts for today, really caught my eye and thought it was a thought-provoking topic which could spark a lot of debate.  And the question is this:

“Should people post about their (or loved ones) health on Facebook?  Why/why not?”

So, what do you all think about the topic?  The immediate response, I thought was, “Well, if someone wants to post their health status on Facebook, then it’s their personal choice, right?”.  But, lets’ not all forget that once is something is on the Internet, and on social networks such as Facebook, it’s there forever; information that cannot be taken back or deleted.  I am sure that many people would not mind this, but just think that anyone in the future will be able to find this information when searching their name in a search engine.  Future partners, future children, even future employers. Perhaps, it doesn’t matter about future family members, but it may be that future employers finding about someone’s health status is a negative aspect of using Facebook to discuss health issues – employers may be unwilling to employ someone with a chromic illness; worried about the time they may need to take off, not being able to be efficient as someone who is healthy (this is of course, not always the case, but are often preconceptions that many people make, unfortunately).

Personally, I choose not to disclose a lot of my health issues and what I am going through daily on Facebook, as many choose to do.  I post links to blog posts, and little bits of information but instead I choose the privacy and security of support groups that I have found on Facebook.  These groups are completely private; and so anything that I choose to share in these groups are not added to my timeline.  This is my preference over adding comments regarding my health status and details of my health condition to the status bar within my Facebook Timeline, as for one it is completely private, and only those who I choose to share these details of my condition.  This is partly as there may be some people whom I am friends with on Facebook that I do want them knowing everything regarding my illness – the worry that they will share details of my condition with others, gossiping about me behind my back.  And then there’s Facebook ever-changing privacy settings – in the past I have had messages from friends that my privacy settings has changed so that their friends were able to see some of the posts that I have sent them after replying to their often question “How are you doing?”.  I mean, would you want strangers knowing the details of your health condition and illness?  Judging you when they don’t even know you?

But on the other hand, those who do write and share about their illness online who do fantastic work, and not only is it an outlet for the frustration and stress that living with a chronic illness causes, but it also helps others that are also  going through something similar themselves, and whom may feel lonely, like they’re only ones that are living with a particular condition, or perhaps are yet to be diagnosed and are looking for support from others – there are plenty of health activists out there who have gone many years searching for that definitive diagnosis – and there are still many more who have yet to be fully diagnosed.  Facebook and other social networks like it, are a fantastic tool for being able to find support, and network with other patients to not only find support but can learn from them about treatment options and so on – after all knowledge is power!

At the end of the day it is up to the individual whether they disclose their chronic illness or health conditions on sites such as Facebook, there are certainly pros and cons for both sides of the argument, but I would definitely advise to be careful about the information that they disclose and to also be vigilant regarding their privacy and security settings so certain information do not fall into the wrong hands!

2 thoughts on “NHBPM Day Ten: To declare or not to declare? That is the question…

  1. It really is a tough call sometimes. I often would be willing to comment about something on face book or my blog but my family members are more private people than I am and I need to watch that I don’t cross their comfort level even when talking about myself.

    One of my jobs involved genetic testing and privacy issues. Most of our patients were relieved to have answers and not have secrets from family and friends, but the chance of having information reach insurance companies and their employers was a horrible risk, especially if they were not symptomatic yet.

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