Reaching the end of the semester, I have to mark an end to my research on the support groups. It was a great experience to immerse myself into their communities and look at how the users interact with each other. Looking at the features in the sites like support point system, hugs, chats with support friends, videos and discussion forums, I was amazed in how much the support groups can provide to the users to make them feel better and understand their illnesses. They provide lots of resources for users to work in a self-help manner. By purely sitting in front of the computer, they can already make friends, get support from them and learn about different issues that different people suffering from. I feel like it works even better than having the patients stepping out home and don’t know where to seek for help. These sites create a hopeful atmosphere for people to grief and gain insights. Users can easily find similar others to talk about their issues comfortably and feel heard. It will be rewarding for them to receive comments when they are having a bad day as these can help cheering them up.
When comparing supportgroups.com and DailyStrength, I found that they have a really different atmosphere and people engage differently in each of the sites. In DailyStrength, there are so many options offered for users to get help from and it is mainly user-oriented. It provides more constructive help to people since the users are discussing the issues seriously and truthfully. In DailyStrength, they have many interesting features like hugs and gifts to exchange with support friends. In terms of helpfulness and effectiveness, however, it seems to be weaker than that of supportgroups.com. Users in DailyStrength are less responsive to discussion forums and less involved in providing supportive materials for the group. Although the design and focus of the sites are different, they both work in similar way in providing support through social networking.
Overall, I found that social networking and privacy are two of the main concepts that I found these sites are relevant to our course materials. I had a great time in learning about this new form of social bonding and it definitely make me to reach out and discover a lot more about the internet world.