SOLICITATION OF ONLINE SOCIAL SUPPORT: SELF-DISCLOSURE OF EATING DISORDER PATIENTS

Nur Azwin Zulkarnain, Jariah Mohd Jan

Abstract

This paper focuses on the online construction of self-disclosure of individuals suffering from eating disorders and demonstrates how strategies of soliciting online social support are mediated within the public sphere. McCormack (2010) indicates that participation of individuals suffering from eating disorders in online support groups, where they anonymously share their feelings and issues via the Internet, is more accessible and non-costly compared to offline settings. This serves as motivation for data to be collected from the discussion forums on the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website. Relevant posts of self-disclosure containing instances of online solicitation of support dated from January 2018 to March 2018 were analysed using the computer-mediated discourse analysis (CMDA) method and North’s (1997) Strategies of Soliciting Social Support. The findings reveal that the sharing of experience is regarded as the most frequent strategy of soliciting support opted by ED patients. This result in a lengthier posts where detailed explanation of their problems were disclosed. It appears that the strategy utilized in online support-solicitation is merely a channel used in portraying the actual state of the support-seekers in handling their illness. In addition, as ED is perceived to be uncommon and unprioritized in Asia (Miller & Pumariega, 2001), the possibility of getting help from various channels may be scarce. Thus, this study’s outcome provides a vivid image on how online social support discussions can be considered as one of the potential effective platforms to help individuals in the Southeast Asia who suffer from ED in their recovery process.

 

Keywords: Computer-mediated discourse, eating disorders, online social support, self-disclosure, soliciting.

 

Cite as: Zulkarnain, N. A. & Mohd Jan, J. (2019). Solicitation of online social support: Self-disclosure of eating disorder patients. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 4(1), 344-364. http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol4iss1pp344-364

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