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 firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
It’s a really interesting (and short) study!