‘Rocking and spitting’: How to vet COPD information online

Some lessons from an old country store

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by Caroline Gainer |

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I remember the old country store that used to be in a little town near our farm. It had a front porch that must’ve been about 40 feet long, with several rocking chairs and spittoons scattered about.

The men of the town would lounge in the rockers and chew their tobacco, pinch their snuff, or smoke their pipes or cigarettes while sharing the week’s news. The younger men, or others who were new to the community, would also rock and spit, while learning what was expected of them from the older folks. They’d also learn who had reliable information and who was just spouting off to get a reaction.

When I moved away from home, my father used the analogy of that old porch to tell me that I should always listen to what the locals are saying. I’ve found that his advice about rocking and spitting often comes in handy.

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Today’s version of the country store porch is the online search engine. Some of the information is reliable, but other information can lead us down a path that rids us of our money and provides little that’s useful.

Just as the young men sat on the porch and listened before taking part in conversations, we need to do our due diligence when searching for medical information online.

I have a salt inhaler sitting on a kitchen shelf as a reminder to not fall for questionable schemes or scams. Thankfully, my lapse of judgment in that situation probably didn’t cause me any harm.

Having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be an isolating experience, but support groups can help. Many groups host online meetings via Zoom or similar applications. But again, one must “rock and spit” when choosing groups to engage with.

When I join a group, I usually spend some time just listening to what people are saying before I decide whether to interact or leave the group. That means I need to know as much as I can about my disease so I can spot bad information when I see it.

Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of people who take advantage of those with chronic illnesses. We must do our best to educate ourselves about our conditions so that we can avoid being led astray by opportunists. In other words, we must learn to rock and spit.

Note: COPD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of COPD News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.