3 Ways to Build Effective Relationships Online

Megan Totka, Chief Editor for

By Guest Blogger Megan Totka, Chief Editor,

The Internet is often accused of being anti-social. I’m sure you’ve heard the argument before: instead of people socializing in person, they hide behind computer, tablet and phone screens. Much of what is done online can be accomplished anonymously, which adds to the non-human portion of the realm. How can we build relationships with people, both personally and professionally, when we can’t see, hear or touch them?

Though all of these accusations about the non-personal nature of the Internet are well-founded, there are certainly exceptions to the rule. Consider all the ways that the Internet has actually benefitted human connections. Being online has made it possible to easily find work, to do that work at home, to find long-lost friends and family members with a few simple clicks and to join remote support groups of like-minded strangers. It has even helped the researching and buying process, with Socialnomics reporting that 90 percent of customers trust peer recommendations happen online through sites like Facebook. In a lot of ways, humans are even more connected to each other than ever because of what the Internet makes possible.

The key to finding beneficial online connections that stand the test of time is to be sure you are seeking out quality and not quantity. Not every interaction online needs to be hyper-personal, but if you’re looking for a way to build stronger connections in cyberspace, consider these suggestions:

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What It’s Like to be Invisible

Beth Schill

By Guest Blogger Beth Schill

Ahhh… Invisibility. It’s one of those superpowers we dream about as kids and, let’s face it, as adults too. How often do we wish we could be a fly on the wall, to listen in on conversations, to see what people are like when nobody’s looking? “To be invisible,” we think, “now that would be cool!”

Well, for those of us with invisible disabilities, being invisible is not always as great as one may think. On the one hand, no one can tell if we have a disability just by looking at us. And for those who face visible disabilities, I can only imagine how difficult that must be. Yet for those faced with an invisible disability, it can be difficult for us in school or the workplace to not feel understood as we deal with our own health issues. Many people see us as able-bodied adults, and wonder why we can’t work an extra few hours, why we take so long doing problems or taking an exam or why we can’t pull our own weight. In short, it can be a very confusing and lonely experience.

According to the American’s with Disabilities Act, enacted in 1990, a disability qualifies as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.” Some of the major life activities include:

  • Caring for one’s self
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Walking
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Speaking
  • Breathing
  • Learning
  • Working

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Coping with Disabilities and Overcoming Suicidal Ideation: A Retired Soldier’s Story

Retired Army Maj. Ed Pulido

By Guest Blogger the Real Warriors Campaign

Not all health concerns are visible or even physical. Support and treatment for an “invisible” wound, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is just as important as treatment for a physical injury. If a psychological health concern is left unaddressed, feelings of stress or hopelessness can become debilitating. In some instances, overwhelming feelings of despair can lead to thoughts of suicide. Suicide prevention is very serious. One act can save a life. To raise awareness about the importance seeking care for invisible wounds to help prevent suicide, the Real Warriors Campaign is honoring the sacrifices of America’s warriors who are coping with physical and psychological health concerns throughout the month of September in observation of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

One member of the military community who understands how physical and invisible wounds can lead to thoughts of suicide is retired Army Maj. Ed Pulido, a Purple Heart recipient. While serving in Iraq in 2004, Pulido was severely injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast. As a result, he underwent 17 surgeries and spent nearly eight months recovering from his injuries at Brooke Army Medical Center. Eventually, Pulido and his family made the decision to amputate his left leg due to severe infection.

During the trying time of treating his physical wounds and fighting for his life, Pulido experienced depression and other psychological health concerns, including PTSD. He had night sweats and terrors about the IED blast. He also worried about how losing his leg would affect the rest of his life: “What will my life be like without a limb? How will I be able to walk? And most importantly, how will I be able to support my family?”

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One Man’s Promise: The Road to Awards Recognizing Leaders with Disabilities

A photo of John Kemp

By Guest Blogger John D. Kemp, President and CEO, The Viscardi Center

Over 60 years ago a man, born with shortened legs, began his journey. He isn’t a household name. His accomplishments aren’t found on the pages of history books. There are no monuments in his honor. But, he was a man of great stature. A man whose vision and spirit continues to mentor. A man who has transformed the lives of countless individuals. His name: Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr.

While you may not be familiar with Dr. Viscardi, U.S. presidents and international statesmen knew him as Hank. His story began with his promise to a doctor that he would make a difference in the life of at least one individual with a disability as a means of repaying the bill for his artificial legs that he could not afford. In fact, he became one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities, served as disability advisor to eight presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter, and had strong ties to the veteran community. Dr. Viscardi worked with the Red Cross at Walter Reed Army Hospital, which at the time housed the only military amputee center in the country. Though his primary role was to write reports about the condition of wounded soldiers, he took on more hands-on work. For example, he encouraged and listened to wounded soldiers and taught them how to walk on their artificial limbs. Dr. Viscardi set up the first dance in the Red Cross building for enlisted men who were amputees which led to formal dancing classes. He held driving classes for amputees, recognizing how necessary driving would be for a man to hold a job and be independent in his community. Later, Dr. Viscardi’s efforts at an Air Force rehabilitation center led to an expansion and upgrade of the Walter Reed amputee program which became the beginning of a program that went on to provide the disabled solider with the finest prosthetic appliances the world had ever known.

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Brain IDEAS, It’s all in Your Head

Brain IDEAS Symposium Oct 23, 2015 Denver Colorado
 By Guest Blogger Wayne Connell, Founder and President, Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA)

I’ve noticed one thing everyone is talking about nowadays is the brain. Sometimes the discussion centers on frontal lobes, brain stems, neurological pathways and wiring and firing. Other times we are in search of finding out if we are right-brained or left-brained. states:

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other. For example, a person who is “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective. A person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective.

On a recent assessment, I scored 52 percent left-brained and 48 percent right-brained. I guess that makes me pretty even in regards to logical thinking versus intuitive thinking; maybe I’m neither logical nor intuitive (don’t ask my friends).

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