Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Internet support groups

It seems like you can't sneeze at your search engine without finding a support group on the net. You can find them for anything and at any capacity. Some are small like chat rooms and some social pages. Others are huge with website information, message boards, articles and more. Some internet support is done by a person writing blog articles, like this one. There are all sorts of variations, but what do you need to know in looking for a place to be accepted?

Isn't that what it's really about? We all want a place to be accepted and there are plenty of people who can't seem to find that place in their local avenues. Thanks to a lack of services in small towns or even some cities, the internet has become the go to place for support groups. The good about this is that these groups are easy to find. The bad is that they lack "in person" social experiences.

The most important thing to remember about any social group you join for support of any condition is this:  Everyone else has the condition too. If you join a group for autism, you have to remember that they people you are talking to also have autism and have the same pitfalls in behavior or social skills that you might have. The same thing goes for bipolar disorder. What's worse, words on a screen lack emotion and are subject to being easily misunderstood from what the writer intends. Everyone has extra sensitivity to something and stepping on toes or egos is so easy it's ridiculous. This results in flame and post wars that get people banned or completely destroy the validity of a support group.

Our conditions make us all unreasonable in one way or another and we need to remember that as we enter the support group setting. This is why live support groups usually have a mentor, therapist or doctor on hand to help moderate discussions and help with misunderstandings.

There are a lot of community groups that lack moderation. Places with no moderation risk becoming mosh pits of hostile behavior that do little for support of anyone. Some people like it, but few of them feel the need for acceptance. Rather, they just want a place to go for their bad behavior.

No one is immune to the power of misunderstanding on the internet. Even good moderators can forget that the person they are talking to has a social disorder. That, in itself, is the great pitfall of having a social disorder in the first place.

TIP: When a comment upsets you, STOP and ask yourself: Is this person really trying to offend me or is this a misunderstanding? Remember, you are in the same boat and this person likely thinks differently than you do.

TIP: If you can't get along with someone or feel they are truly attacking you, just block them. Sometimes there is just no way to help that person, no matter what you do and some people really are just there to hurt others.

TIP: Don't stay in hostile territory. When it's clear that the behavior of the group isn't going to be helpful to you, leave. Shop around, there are lots of groups out there and some are bound to be well moderated and much more friendly.

Being in a support group on the net can be a rewarding experience. Just try to remember how your disorder/condition affects you. However it affects you others will be affected similarly, better, or worse. We all have triggers and we all have the potential to "go off". Some people will have quicker triggers than others. By this rule of thumb, you can get along better with others and make your social internet experience that much better.

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