There are two sides to every story, especially when it comes to matters of the Internet. While online communities can help both online and offline relationships to thrive, they also have the ability to have negative effects on a person’s mental state. Online communities are great and can be used to meet friends, form relationships, seek advice, and offer support, but McCabe’s reading also gives light to the negative aspects of these online communities, which include hate groups and forums that encourage eating disorders by those affected by the disease/mental illness.
In places like Second Life, we can see both the positive and negative aspects of an online community. After one of our readings mentioned “Help Island,” I decided to go check it out and see if I could get any tips for building. When I posed my question in the local chat, I received positive responses and prompt advice with links to teleport to other locations. However, according to Dibbel’s article, there are some bad people in Second life who take part in “jackassery” by plaguing the system. This “jackassery” is a result of Second Life getting hacked.
I transferred from the University of Tampa a year and a half ago and I still manage to keep in touch with my previous roommate every week, if not everyday through all types of media. Without technology, this would never be possible and we wouldn’t be able to stay as close as we have been. This friendship was formed offline, but the use of technology has enabled us to keep a ‘virtual’ friendship.
I believe that online friendships work best if there is some type of real-time interaction over video, whether it be Skype or Facetime. In my opinion, relationships that exist solely online can be sketchy, no matter how well you think you know this person.
I do think that communities can exist online. Online support groups are just one example of the many online communities that depend on each other to keep growing and help them live their lives. This particular type of community exists because people with specific issues happening in their lives may feel more comfortable expressing their feelings in an anonymous context. These online support groups provide members with emotional, esteem, and informational support, which were three types of support highlighted in Baym’s article.