Imagine this scenario: you have recently been diagnosed with a serious medical condition. Your doctor has outlined your treatment and prognosis, given you some leaflets and a handful of prescriptions to fill at the chemist. Your family and friends may be supportive to begin with, but they have never been through what you are going through, so how can they understand? You’d like to join a support group, but your work and family commitments mean you can’t get to meetings on the first Tuesday evening of each month. So what can you do? The answer is to use the internet – where you can find online community support and information for all sorts of conditions from “Alopecia Aerata” to “Zellweger Syndrome”. (Better Health Channel, 2010)
Blogs can often attract quite a “large and dedicated readership” because they “engage people in knowledge sharing, reflection, and debate” (Boulos et al, 2006). One such blog with a large readership is “Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy – Adventures of a superhero on his journey through chronic pain and debilitating inflammation”. Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy (or RA Guy for short) shares not only his journey through a chronic disease, but comprehensive information about auto immune diseases and their treatment. RA guy also has a Facebook profile with links to the blog, and also a Twitter presence, again which links back to the blog. The blog has multiple comments to each post, and additional comments are also posted on RA Guy’s Facebook profile whenever he puts a link to the blog.