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Jwords
Jwords

In a Social Network a person, most times, feels more freedom to share anonymously and can be somewhat vulnerable without the peer pressure to lie about it or the fear of unfair judgement. Now I have seen some unfair judgement and a clique type syndrome go on in many Social Networks but a person has the benefit of most times getting others to share empathy and counsel that is decent alongside these other indecent responses. In my experience, it can help a person discern better their vulnerability and how to get help or recieve affirmation about not being alone !!!
Spiral
Spiral

The benefit of online support is that it is an almost immediate response to a post. You cannot get that from the health care system. If you phone a doctor you might get an appointment for next week if you are lucky but the immediate challenge you are facing is usually over by then.

Their are some downsides to it. Some people tend to post about their own experiences and some tend to hi-jack the post for their own purposes or needs. There is also a risk that posting on line could trigger yourself or other creating a real crisis situation. The other part of this is that some of the posts are supportive while others are advice giving in nature.

Lastly, you are getting one side of the issue at hand. For example in any relationship there is his story, her story and in between is the truth. There are always risks that the information being posted is not entirely true, but that person's version of the truth. For example if someone has not heard from a friend for while, the my create the story of "that friend no longer likes me". Going off on a post about having no friends. It could be the friend is sick, busy, out of town etc. We need to be careful of the story we tell online and sort fact from fiction.

In conclusion, I think social networks are good, but one has to be care when using them. It is easy to get pulled down into the weeds and politics of the board. It is easy to give advise rather than be supportive, it is easy to spend a lot of time online and it does hamper ones ability to make close friends you can actually see and do things with. Having said that, the immediate gratification of support and getting an answer to your post could very well be saving people from a full blown crisis that would require an ER visit. Perhaps we need to expand supportive sights like DS to be included in mental health care.