After visiting the wikipedia page for online support groups (which is just a brief subtopic off support groups) I decided to add a brief comment regarding a benefit that wasn’t already mentioned on the page. A potential benefit that I learned from one of Kimball’s lectures was that online forum participation is asynchronous. In case my pasting of the print screen doesn’t show up on the blog, here is my submission-
“An additional benefit to online support groups is that participation is asynchronous. This means that it is not necessary for all participants to be logged into the forum simultaneously in order to communicate. An experience or question can be posted and others can answer questions or comment on posts whenever they are logged in and have an appropriate response. This characteristic allows for participation and mass communication without having to worry about time constraints.”
I added this to the wikipedia page this afternoon so I don’t know how long it will be visible.
Last night was the best time to keep track of all of my computerized use because it was a lazy Sunday evening and I had time to check on every computerized aspect of my life. First, I went to Associated Bank online to check to see how much I spent at the bars this weekend. That is always the worst feeling to check on your account and see multiple pending transactions that you faintly remember. Next, I checked on both my Yahoo and ESPN fantasy football leagues to see how my teams were doing. In addition, in order to complete my finance homework and online tests I have to access myfinancelab.com and do all of the requirements online. In between checking on my finances and homework, I ofcourse checked my email and searched online for other entertaining and trivial purposes. This participation assignment made me realize that almost every aspect of my college life revolved around using computerized technology. It is hard to imagine how my parents and grandparents managed everything in the pre-computerized era.
After taking a week break from checking the alcoholism support group I subscribed to about 3 months ago, I returned to many interesting forum updates from participants that I have been following. One particularly interesting post was from a member named blanka44 who discussed her intense fear of Thanksgiving (and other holidays) where her family gathers and a lot of alcohol is consumed. “Blanka” is a recovering alcoholic who has history of alcoholism in her family. In previous posts she has commented on family fights that have occurred due to over consumption and even two members of her family that are no longer on speaking terms. She talked about how holidays are not the joyous occasions for her that are typically associated with the season as they always set the stage for “large gatherings of alcoholics where the supply is plentiful”. Not only do such environments lead to family fall-outs, but they also add to her own temptations. She mentioned that she made it through Thanksgiving succesfully but she is very afraid for the upcoming Christmas and New Years festivities.
I found this post very interesting and also very upsetting. I, like most people, look forward to the holidays every year because it’s an opportunity to relax and see friends and family. Blanka, on the other hand, has to worry about her family’s alcoholism and her own temptations. Because her family is dealing with the same problems that she is, she must resort to this online support group for support and reassurance. Most of the comments to her posts suggested that she no longer attend such family gatherings, but that is definitely easier said than done. I fear that if she isolated herself from such occasions, she would be even more inclined to resort the substance abuse that got her into the mess in the first place.
I offered a few words of encouragement to “keep strong” and giving her credit for being brave enough to attend, but I feel this issue is way too serious and personal to offer any advice (because I have never been in sucha predicament). The more posts I read, the more I realize how important these support groups are to individuals dealing with major issues.
First, I watched the new internet sensation Jimmy Kimmel’s “I ate all your Halloween Candy” on youtube. Aside from the obvious amateur footage there were a few other differences from that of the Hulu clip I watched. Instead of an opening advertisement, the youtube clip contained a small ‘ads by google’ box advertising a Military Razor. The box was small enough that it didn’t really bother me or distract from the video content. At the upper right corner of the ad there was a small box where you could ‘x’ out of the ad and it would disappear entirely. Because the video was uploaded by an ordinary citizen and not a entertainment company there really weren’t any copyright infringements that I could notice accompanying the video.
I watched a movie trailer called “Goon” on hulu. Prior to the trailer, their was a breif ad that anounced “the following trailer is brought to you by Charity Water. The ad was not avoidable, but it was brief and didn’t really bother me too much. On Hulu only official content like movies, tv shows and trailers are available. On Hulu I didn’t notice many copyright laws or warnings either.
Today as I was participating in my alcoholism online support group I came across a post that I havn’t seen before. Throughout the last two months of being a member and reading the forums all of the posts have pertained to having a problem with alcohol or shared experiences and support for dealing with the struggle for sobriety. A new post uploaded today from a member named Bill had a headline titled “Off Topic”. I was intrigued so I decided to read his post and the accompanying comments. Bill had been an active member of the online support group for alcoholism and participated in many discussions involving his problems and offered support to others. Today his post had nothing to do with alcohol and, instead, he told the rest of the online community how he had just received a job offer working in a sales department at a church. There were 10 accompanying comments of congratulations for Bill and questions as to how he secured the position. Not once throughout the entire post/comment did anyone mention alcohol or sobriety.
I realized that for many people these online support groups offer more than just support for a specific topic. Bill had already gained the respect and trust of others and considered others in the group as friends who he wanted to share the good news with. Everyone was supportive and (from what I understood) showed genuine interest in Bill and his accomplishment. The online support group serves as a platform for people to be listened to and friendships can be developed (even if these people have never come into contact with eachother). This was very interesting for me and I also congratulated Bill even though I havn’t spoken with him ever before.
I never paid too much attention to copyright laws when it came to my use of the internet. Obviously, whenever I use online sources for academic purposes I adheer the ‘fair use’ requirements of giving credit to the originator of the material and never try to make money off of it. I try to avoid websites that provide file sharing and illegal downloading of movies and tv shows because I’ve heard horror stories of viruses and threatening emails that usually accompany such use. I guess the copyright law does influence my internet use because it influences my decision not to use or download such material.
I’ve read articles in the past about a teenage girl who illegally downloaded songs from limewire (or a similar file sharing platform) and was fined over 20k. This story scared me and after my parents heard the story they warned me from ever using such material. Also, I did a presentation on copyright laws and intellectual property in a previous comm arts class and read the repercussions of such activity. Fan-made websites using others’ ideas/material have been shut-down and even been threatened with ridiculous law suits. All of these warnings have certainly influence my internet use. Instead of trying to capitalize on others’ intellectual material, I just passively participate in online content by reading and spreading it around by word of mouth.
Have you participated in any online support groups (divorced parents, medical conditions, death of a family member)? Would you feel comfortable sharing your experiences or giving advice to complete strangers? Also, what do you believe would be positives/negatives of an online support group as opposed to face-to-face support groups?
While googling myself I came up with several interesting results. I tried to google both “Nick” and “Nicholas” Johns and it lead me to over 40 linkedin profiles with my same name and from all over the world. Locations varied form United Kingdom to the greater Pittsburgh area. The google search also lead to many facebook profiles, including mine. The search didn’t just bring up “nick johns” results, instead, it brought any combination of a name that included nick, nicholas, johns, or john.
In addition to linkedin and facebook accounts, it brought up a a news article about a Nick Johns in Minnesota who died in a cliff jumping incident. It was creepy to read the article and watch the news telecast reporting the death of Nick Johns and seeing the name printed on photographs of the deceased.
There was also a link to REVERBNATION with a musician named Nick Johns’s profile. The profile had links you could click on to hear his music and look up his tour dates. I always knew my name was common and “googling” it confirmed this.
I spent yesterday further utilizing and discovering all of the various tools and characteristics of the Daily Strength support group website. While my focus has been on participating in an alcoholism support group chat, there are literally hundreds of other support group topics available on the site. They range from depression in children, ebola, acne, and how to cope with divorce. I clicked on a few of the topic choices and was suprised to see that even some of the least popular topics such as “tooth grinding” still had many active blog/chat participants. The support group website truly does provide a platform for discussions of any controversial topic.
Other characteristics of the support group website include building your own profile. You can upload pictures of yourself to share with the other participants. In addition, you can share daily journal entries and control who has access to them. Also, you can update your current moods or “hug” other members. ” Hugs” are the equivalent of facebook “pokes’ and are just used as a way to console others and show that you are there for supporting them.
Lastly, there is a link on the support group website that allows members to ask health related questions to experts on the topic. You can ask questions anonymously and they are answered in the timely manner. It is similiar to a webmd but it’s more formatted towards participants of the suppot group.
While frequenting the alcoholism support group I found many different patterns of use among many of the participants. Many of the participants have been members of the support group for years. Even after some have achieved sobriety they still actively (daily, weekly) participate in the blog posts and share past experiences and offer advice and consoling. I have been an active member for about a month and have come across members who’s accounts have been inactive and who just recently rejoined the conversation. One member came back looking for help because she thought she took control of her drinking problem and no longer found it necessary to participate in the discussion. She mentioned that because she no longer thought her problem effected her that she no longer wanted to associate with the support group because it showed a sign of weakness and reminded her of her past. Other people commented on her re-introduction post reminding her that the struggle with alcoholism is an ongoing process that needs constant reinforcement.
I found these differing patterns of usage very interesting. Some of the members of the support group beleive that joining a support group is a quick fix that leads to a lifetime of sobriety. Many join and occasionaly share stories/seek out help as a means of redeeming themselves, even though they are not truly taking others’ advice and experiences seriously. The more serious members who constantly post and share advice I beleive truly benefit from this online support group community which makes me believe that dedication to the support has positive effects in the long run.