Home > Uncategorized > Interacting with Online Communities

Interacting with Online Communities

Professor Myers recently suggested to our class that we focus more on discussing articles that pertain to our projects, and one of the scholarly articles I have read has really interested me. It’s called, “Online We are All Able Bodied: Online Psychological Sense of Community and Social Support Found Through Membership of Disability-specific Websites Promotes Well-being for People Living with a Physical Disability” by Patricia Obst and Jana Stafurik, from the Queensland University of Technology.

The article discusses, and references a lot of other studies, how physically disabled individuals who partake in an online community are able to connect with others similar to them, reducing their isolation, increasing their social network, and creating a greater sense of well-being. The title of the study sums it up really well – online, on the Internet, we are all able-bodied. Furthermore, online, we are able to easily put on a cloak of invisibility (had to make an HP reference) which many people like to ‘wear’ in an online enviornment.

I was wondering, do any of you interact with online communities? And, although most of us aren’t physically disabled, I think the same claims still stand: communicating with people online CAN reduce our feeling of social isolation, and is a much easier forum (I think at least) to talk to people without worrying about a lot of the possible superficial things that come up with communicating in person.

Do you agree? What are the benefits/disadvantages to partaking in an online community? Do you?

If you want the PDF, you can email me at mlevy15@gwu.edu 🙂

It’s a really interesting (and short) study!

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 16, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Internet has been the revolutionary tool to educate, argue and share information faster than ever before, and gives further opportunity to many people to be able to communicate on a same platform.
    In my opinion, to become the member of the Internet societies, the important thing is to understand and follow the rules in the online community. Since the visual and the real experience from personal interaction do not apply to the internet communication, each websites has its own rules to ensure safety and morale of the web page. Internet culture has developed to a point to enforce social norms to the users

    Only issue with the online communication would be the trust aspects.

  2. April 16, 2012 at 4:17 am

    There are numerous benefits of participating in online communities. It allows us to communicate with a wider audience (whether it is another person in your state, across the country, or in another part of the world). Also, it may give someone the confidence to share what’s really on their mind because of the ‘cloak of invisibility’ that was mentioned above. But I think the biggest benefit is that it can make people feel accepted as an individual. Even if someone doesn’t encounter people who completely understand or relate to another, the internet community can open up the opportunity to find someone that is similar to you.

  3. April 16, 2012 at 4:40 am

    I can certainly see how interacting online might reduce social isolation–but it’s to what degree that matters. Sure, talking to someone online may be enjoyable to most people, but I also feel that at the same time we, as people, are constantly craving not only more, but also what our neighbors have. So, if one person spends a lot of time socializing online, I kinda feel that while that is certainly better than not socializing at all, that person will inevitably crave physical interaction too (since I think we tend to regard physical interaction as more fulfilling that online interaction). Just a thought.

  4. April 17, 2012 at 12:00 am

    This study is truly very interesting. We discussed something similar in my Communications class last semester. People are more likely to be themselves by means of technology and especially the internet. Online you can take your time thinking of a response and be as funny/witty as you want. In person many people lose this knack and cant think as fast on their feet. Communicating online, one remains free from physical cues such as laughter or shyness. While on the internet you can’t formulate an assessment based on verbal cues or eye contact, interpersonal communication involves all of these. Participating in online conversations can be extremely tricky. The person who you think has all these things in common with you, may have just stalked you on google or facebook. Its a hard world out there in the land of technology. Thankfully by means of new programs such as Skype some of these limitations can be avoided.

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