"I get where you’re coming from" – the value of online friendships

I’ve been a heavy internet user for close to 15 years. Early on I figured out that the internet was more than just an encyclopedia of information; it was also a place where I could meet people from around the world. 

As a teenager living in a small town, I found this comforting. When I signed up for a discussion board on a topic I was interested in, I found other people like me. It didn’t matter that they were in Sweden, England, or Australia and that I couldn’t meet them in person. In some ways, the physical distance let me be more open about my thoughts and feelings because I didn’t have to worry if my words would affect my day-to-day life or relationships with family and friends.
Having friends somewhere in the world who “got me” was important, particularly when it felt like no one around me did. As an adult working in cancer care, I’m happy to see that the web and social media has made it easy for people dealing with such a health crisis to connect with each other and get that same experience. 

Bio: Alaina Cyr is an Online Patient Education Coordinator at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and a Masters student in eHealth Innovation & Information Management at the University of Toronto. She is an active member of Healthcare Social Media Canada, an avid quilter, and an amateur archer. Find her on twitter at @alainabcyr.


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