By Tammie Allegro
If you watch the news, you can usually hear at least a dozen stories of how the Internet and social media are being misused by many people. There is no shortage of stories about people being taken advantage of both personally and financially. Working with a team focused on social media, I have seen both the good and ugly sides of this. But, there are tons of ways social media can benefit each of us. We just have to use the power of the Internet for good rather than evil.
When we started the IG Living blog and Facebook page, I had no idea how much work was involved. I also had never realized that there are people who spend their days spamming sites like ours with comments in the hopes of getting their link clicked on. We clear an average of 150 spam comments weekly from the blog to keep the inappropriate content off the blog site. That is a side of the Internet many consumers never have to see because businesses keep a pretty tight handle on it.
There are also instances when people will pretend to have an illness in order to make money. Recently, one of our Facebook fans and guest bloggers, Rebecca Zook, had her story stolen from her blog and saw it being used to “raise funds and awareness.” Most of the information was just skewed enough to put fear in people and get them to rush to donate. Unfortunately, people like this make it really hard to know whom you can trust and which causes are real.
Personally, I have learned so much in the years since we started the blog and Facebook site. I read the comments and blogs, and I am touched by the candor and sense of community that exists here. In recent months, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, and I found solace and comfort in reading the comments and posts. I also was able to research my illness on the IG Living website. These are cases of using the Internet for good.
Another such case of using the Internet for good is the story of Carson’s Cause. There is this sweet little boy who is only 5 months old who was recently diagnosed with Kawasaki disease. It is such a rare disease that most people know nothing about it. His parents were obviously devastated and overwhelmed, and the costs associated with the treatment are astronomical. Without missing a beat, a group of moms who are friends started a page to help the family raise funds. They also started putting together yard sales, bake sales and selling crafts. In addition, they are getting ready to plan a virtual 5K to raise funds and awareness. With a click of a button, people are sharing Carson’s story with one another, and in the process, they are becoming more educated about Kawasaki disease.
What positive and negative experiences have you had using social media and the Internet?