Support Groups, Not So SupportivePosted: October 3, 2011
After introducing myself to my new alcoholism support group and explaining to them my purpose for being there, I received mixed reactions from the other participants. I briefly described our class project and asked if anyone would be willing to share with me their reasons for and experiences with using the online support group. Right away, one user replied to me and told me that support groups do not participate in class projects as it is a rule in their 12 steps program and healing process. Other users responded, however, and told me reasons why they joined the group and how it has helped them with the healing process. No one else ever mentioned to me that support groups couldn’t participate in projects so I believe that first respondent sucked. One interesting response I received from a user explained that the reason they joined the support group was because their “mouth” was the reason they got into the big mess (consuming the alcohol with the mouth/saying inappropriate things when drunk) so the internet served as a medium where her fingers could do all the talking. I thought that was an interesting concept which helped me understand one of many reasons why people turn to the internet for support.
One problem with online support groups is you cannot always truly trust the sincerity of other peoples’ comments and responses to your post. I tried to be respectful and disclose all of my information to the group so that I could gain their trust and they would feel comfortable interacting with me. One user responded to my post by asking me “when my presentation was so they could come in for show and tell”. I beleive this person was mocking me and subtly letting me know that I am not going to get much help or sympathy from this support group. I don’t know if she was just joking or was really interested in coming in. That is the problem with online posting because wording can sometimes be ambiguous and you cannot determine someone’s tone by reading what they typed online.