Virtual Communities

I first found myself in the world of Facebook groups in 2013. I had just received a foundation shattering diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). Ignorant to the meaning of the diagnosis and only familiar with the stereotyped description of an eight-year-old boy who won’t sit still, I turned to the internet for answers. After finding the diagnostic criteria and feeling somewhat satisfied with the suggested diagnosis, I continued to Facebook. I searched ADHD unsure of what I was looking for then, low and behold, I came across multiple groups targeted for individuals with ADHD. Naturally, I joined all of them. Upon acceptance my world grew immensely while simultaneously shrinking. There were other people just like me. I wasn’t inherently flawed; I simply had a diagnosable neurological condition. Even more importantly, I was not alone. To learn of the virtual gathering of like-minded individuals suffering from similar symptoms throughout their life created an instant comradery. It was mind blowing that these individuals scattered across the globe were accessible to communicate with through the tiny device at my fingertips.

Social media is notorious for decreased emotional interactions and increasing anxiety, depression and other detrimental effects. It could be a coping mechanism for those with anxiety. Difficulties with face-to-face interactions could be increased if majority of interactions are had by virtual means. Additionally, there has been noted research suggesting increased symptoms of depression caused by Facebook use (Lorman, 2017).  On the other end of the spectrum, Facebook groups of tens of thousands of individuals are finding support to the extent the benefit of the support found outweighs their privacy (Richards, 2018).

A suggested answer for the difference in experiences are the different personality traits found in each individual. For example, individuals with high scores of extraversion are seen to have a higher number of Facebook friends- but it does not necessarily result in meaningful interactions and may cause increased feelings of depression or lonliness. The differences could result in different intentions and effects with social media use (Lorman, 2017; Skues, Williams, & Wise, 2012). It can be agreed that if one is experiencing negative effects resulting from social media use, decreasing and limiting the time on the virtual platform can alleviate and essentially “reset” individuals (Lorman, 2017).

It has been observed that social media has its drawbacks and negative effects on the general public. Moderation is key. The sense of community to be found can be irreplaceable and benefit individuals in a way that was never to be known for previous generations.




Ellison, B., N., Steinfield, Charles, Lampe, & Cliff. (2007, July 01). Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites. Retrieved from

Lorman, S. (2017, September 14). What 65 Studies Can Tell Us About Facebook and Mental Health. Retrieved from

Richards, S. E. (2018, May 29). Facebook’s Health Groups Offer A Lifeline, But Privacy Concerns Linger. Retrieved from

Skues, J.L., Williams, B. and Wise, L. (2012) The Effects of Personality Traits, Self-Esteem, Loneliness, and Narcissism on Facebook Use among University Students. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 2414-2419.


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