Social Media & Medicine Part 1: Using Social Media as a Power for Good

Dr. Aaron Hartman

July 15, 2021

Young woman looking at social media

July is social wellness month—and being that meaningful relationships are one of the five pillars of functional medicine, I’m so glad that there’s some awareness around the importance of socializing. I’d like to take the opportunity to highlight a huge part of our modern day social wellness: Social media! In this first part of a 3-post series, I want to talk a little bit about using social media for good in healthcare and medicine.

All of us who use FacebookInstagramYouTube and other social platforms know that social media can be a double edged sword. We can connect with some many great people online that we might not cross paths with otherwise… but there’s also a lot of icky things going on out there in the interwebs. I’ve witnessed this firsthand.

Using social media in negative ways can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. But when we focus on helping create positive content that educates and provides information on social media, we all win! Let’s dig into this a little more.

Person using social media

“Political Speech” Censoring on Social

I had no idea “pollution” was considered political speech!

Back in December 2019, after consulting many hours with my wife (who is my online PR, editing, and tech expert), I decided to try and launch some form of an online educational platform.  Just like any other expert or business owner, we decided using social media in the form of Facebook and Instagram would be a natural outlet for building awareness around our medical practice and the healthcare information we want to get out to help improve the health of others.

Little did I know where this journey was going to take me and what I would learn about the power and effects of social media on everything from consumer choices to medical decisions!

So how is “pollution” political speech? Well, towards the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I came across interesting medical literature that showed a close correlation to combusted petroleum microparticulate (i.e. car exhaust and the like) and lung disease. It appears that the pollution in areas like NYC and the Wuhan Province creates a natural low-grade lung inflammation that increases the risk for lung disease and entry of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into a person’s body. Therefore, people living in these areas are naturally more susceptible to this and other lung viral infections.

Knowing a fair amount about environmental medicine and the value of high-grade HEPA filters to remove microparticulate and prevent lung diseases, I thought it was important to share this information with the positive effect of empowering people and enable them to start preventative measures (like using HEPA filters, or similar, at work and at home).

I wrote a social media post to get this info out, and put it on the web. But, boosting it via paid social media ads was blocked!

What I learned was the word “pollution” was considered political speech related to global warming and the like, and posts on this topic would be hidden from viewers. So even as a medical doctor, trying to help people learn how to prevent this terrible disease from occurring to themselves or their loved ones, I am banned from using unapproved words on social media.

Period. Without exception.

How We Can Boost the Positive on Social Media

It’s frustrating that information I know could save lives is being banned and hidden on social media. So, how can I get around this phenomenon and continue to do what I would like to do? By pushing forward with educating people about their health and functional medicine. We just can’t quit!

I am still learning about navigating these waters and am not 100% sure as a medical practitioner how to work within the social media system—but I believe a good starting point is just attempting to get a conversation started and helping out other positive-minded social media users.

This is how you yourself can use social media in an advantageous way that simultaneously makes you feel good and helps others. If you read posts you feel have value for good and a positive message you’d like others to read, then YOU have to like it, share it, and comment on it. That is the starting point. If you trust the source, visit their website and make their information part of your personal ‘news feed.’

I’ve already started practicing this use of social media in the healthcare niche, and I feel great about sharing the message of other brilliant medical professionals who might otherwise have been “hidden” from feeds!

Also, I have found that our newsletter and website are the only reliable way for me to get information out to the public. Facebook, at times, will hide our healthcare content unless we pay for advertising—so coming back to our blog frequently or signing up for our newsletter is the best way to keep up with our content.

And did you know we have our own private social media platform? When you join our Full Thrive community, you have access to our network of people who are passionate about learning and discussing how to use functional medicine to benefit their health.

Stay tuned for my second Social Media and Medicine post! Next week we’ll be talking about the danger of medical misinformation in social searches.

Since 2010, Richmond Integrative and Functional Medicine has been helping people to restore their health and hope with an integrative approach to conventional and alternative medicine that’s entirely science-backed. We at RIFM believe everyone is made for health. We offer a comprehensive, in-person patient membership program to ensure you get access to the care you need to thrive.


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