|05-26-2010, 02:59 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2008
People Seeking Help Online
In my relatively short time on these forums I've seen many postings where people are looking for some kind of help. Every week there seems to be 1 or 2 new postings from someone that is apparently going through a trying time of one type or another and some of them seem to verge on despair.
When I read these I ask myself what is it that I or anyone else could tell this person through text that would really make a difference in their situation? At times I've even wanted to ask them that very question. Are words no matter how comforting going to be enough? Is it that there is no one in their actual lives who can be there in person to comfort and give them advice with the presence and energy that a computer screen can't deliver? Yes, I know that we're real people here behind the words but it still seems at a remove and if it really got down to it how far would anyone here extend themselves with help?
For example, let's say someone's post is one of the despairing ones and one of the readers of it goes to the point of private messaging with the person out of compassion or whatever. From there how far would it go? What if the person who wanted the help wanted to talk on the phone with the other and if it even got to that point what would be the consequences? Granted, I figure many would say that they would never let it get that far with someone who is basically a stranger. Which then brings it right round to where it's a matter of help but only to a point and then no more, it’s an “expression” of help but nothing that should be interpreted as a commitment to help.
Seems to me it's the same with the help that some dispense in reply to these postings. I mean, you would have to offer the most general advice to someone: "things will get better", "it's not that bad", "be happy", because in many respects you couldn't be specific about any of it if you didn't know the specifics of it to begin with. I'm not talking about the X, Y, Z, specifics that they'd bring up about a matter, I mean the specifics of the person him or herself, who they really are in their actual world, the environment they live in, and all the other factors which simply cannot be conveyed in their fullness by a plea in a paragraph or two. And of course, being the type of forums these are then the advice will be couched in everything from LOA to change your diet to even possibly paranormal explanations.
Personally, I have answered a couple of these types of postings but only when what I read seemed to me to be from a sensibility that even if they had some troubling issues they themselves seemed aware enough to express it without seeming desperate - even mildly so - about it and furthermore could frame it from various angles such as psychological, philosophical, LOA, whatever. In short, the feeling I got from them was that they already knew the premise of communication in the forums and especially what and what not to expect from it. But even if all of those elements were to be evident there is really no way to know the actual "5 W's" of whom you're communicating with.
Some of the postings I've seen hinted at how the person had considered suicide and one of them seemed to imply that the poster still left that type of solution as an option. And then there are the examples I've read or were referred to where the replies to the poster made him or her feel as if they brought the tragedy upon themselves. Imagine someone who just wants a few comforting words and they get those accusations in return?
I'm not saying that people shouldn't express their problems on an internet forum; they have the right to do it if they want. But it still doesn't stop me from wondering about the propriety of it, to be more exact, the psychological propriety of both poster and responder. Yes, I know, maybe it has gotten to this where for some people communication on the internet is the next best thing or maybe the only thing that they've got left to them in their particular circumstances. It's not the cheeriest of pictures.
It's probable that some of those who have asked for help will read this and so to them I ask: What are you really expecting? Will the sentiments in text from strangers be enough to alleviate whatever is troubling you? Is the internet forum a 'second opinion' or is it the only one available to you?
And for those who reply to the postings: Is any one here really qualified to deal with some of the apparently serious problems that some bring to these forums? And by the other side of the coin, is the ol' catch-22 applicable here in that if the person is able to use a computer and all that attends to it and able to express their problem then they are not as dire as they make it sound? What do you think you can give? How far will you extend yourself in helping? Or is it simply a matter of another nickname with another problem - give them what sounds good and then move on because it's a big world.
I think about what intuitives refer to as being overwhelmed but personally I am of a disposition where I find myself "cool" to such requests since there seems to be so many of them in our society. I can certainly do something in person with those near to me but at the remove of the internet? Not so much and I don’t want to respond to something serious with what to the other would seem like a smiley face courtesy.. But I still wonder with some of those persons what happens when the computer and monitor are turned off and they're alone with their situation. That's rough. You know what I'm saying?
|05-26-2010, 07:45 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2009
Hi Desert, I think this was an interesting post. I find myself "cool" to a lot of requests for help as well. Though I'm a relative newbie here, I'm a pretty active and longstanding member on another forum and there's a board there where people will come and talk about their problems. I admit to feeling the same way as you on a regular basis: "what exactly do you want?" basically, especially when the poster seems to be venting and not really asking for any advice. However, I think my tendency to be cooler toward/not get involved with people who don't genuinely want my opinion has saved me from feeling frustrated that someone isn't taking my advice.
However, I want to argue the other side of it: that it can be incredibly helpful to come online and get people's advice. Assuming pure intent (to grow as a person, after all these are PD forums), it can have tremendous upsides, not the least of which is getting outside opinions on a situation that your close friends in real life would be TOO close to. Another point to consider is that not everyone has close friends with the same outlooks; if I asked my friends "how did I attract this situation?" or "what do you think my limiting beliefs are surrounding x?" they would probably stare at me blankly. So that aspect can be really helpful around here.
And finally, I've reached out online to people I thought were sincere, and made real live outside-of-computer friendships from it, totally oblivious to how close the person was in physical space while I was making the gesture. So... that's another thing that can happen. Rare, but it can happen.
|05-26-2010, 09:02 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Down the infinite rabbit hole
I see it as someone taking the opportunity to get their "stuff" out in writing, and get other points of view, so they can sort it out for themselves. I doubt very much if there's anyone who would come here, ask for advice, and just automatically do whatever they were told to do (I sure hope that wouldn't be the case). Essentially, it's someone solving their own problem/issue/whatever.
If they're not ready to solve their own problem (being more attached to the problem than they think they are, or being unwilling to make actual changes to fix it, etc.), then they're not "helped". If they are, then they find new perspective and work it out for themselves.
I could comment and offer advice on a lot of things that get posted. I generally don't, because I know for sure that my input actually doesn't matter. Sure, I may say something that someone finds insightful, but other people say insightful things, too. People will or won't sort out their issues, with or without my help. I only post when and if I feel like posting (such as now).
Bottom line is, I post for myself, talking to myself. Other contributors act as aspects of myself, and sometimes as mirrors. When I talk to them, I talk to the corresponding aspects of myself. When I don't feel the need to address some issue in myself (such as something I've already resolved), even though I could express an insight or offer advice, I just don't, unless it concerns me in some way.
We're all like this. It's all about me-me-me, all the time. And so it should be. We are each the protagonist of our own story, and we have no control over other people (who, in our story, are only supporting roles, as we are supporting roles in their story).
At least, that's what I'm seeing lately. In a year, I might have a different perspective.
|05-26-2010, 09:29 AM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2009
I think there's no one answer as to why people ask for help on the forums.
It may be just to get different opinions
to seek comfort because they don't have anyone there in person
they don't feel comfortable talking to someone they know about what's bothering them
sometimes it's just a moment of weakness
and sometimes it makes them more sure of their own decision in the first place
to get a better insight/explanation for something etc
I think it also depends in which forum you're asking for advice, for example I have seen really interesting discussions (for me) in Spirituality, Consciousness, & Awareness and Intention-Manifestation forums. People would really put a lot of effort and time into their replies to a person asking a question, so it really made me understand some things better, even if the OP didn't apply to me.
Bottom line, why does it matter?
Like CaterpillarWoman, I don't think anyone would come here for advice, and just automatically do whatever they were told to do. And I'm sure people asking advice are aware of the fact that after they turn off their computers they're left to deal with it on their own...or get some help in RL.
People who reply get something out of it too.
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