Positivity on the Internet (no, for real)

The Internet goes by many names, but I think the web is one of the most apt. The Internet creates a network that links disparate groups and can unite those with unique experiences. Online forums are a perfect example. People who may never exchange a word in real life can almost magically create a community and converse on the regular. My origin piece centers on my experience with hospice, and during my brainstorming I wanted to see if I could find an online community for other people with similar experiences. A Reddit page called r/hospice quickly popped up.

What immediately surprised me was the myriad of content and posters. There were short personal entries, most no longer than a paragraph, about hospice volunteers like myself and the experiences and struggles they were going through. There were posts from family members of hospice patients encouraging and informing others about palliative care. There were even posts

Trolling Deconstructed

from hospice employees about fun games to play with patients. I was struck by the sense of community and the fact that so many people had turned to the web as a means of self-expression and connect with others in similar circumstances. A lot of the time I see the online communities as high risk for toxicity and trolling facilitated by the glory of digital anonymity. However, r/hospice and a second hospice board I found were so overwhelmingly positive.

Just as the type of posts on the forum were varied, so too are the conventions of the post as a genre. Some of the guidelines were outlined very clearly in the forum sidebar. No medical advice posts. No protected health information. No memes (a real loss). Some of the conventions

When they say no memes

were less explicit. Almost every post begins with the individual’s personal experience, and leads into either a question or advice. Formatting was not a huge focus of posters, and James Joyce would be happy to know that stream-of-consciousness is still alive and well (though also not a necessity, as some of the best posts were narratives of patient’s last hours that were as clear as they were poignant).

For my experiment, I want to convert my origin piece (a journal entry about my hospice experience) into one of these forum posts. In this class we are supposed to have to freedom to fail spectacularly, but given the positivity of my audience, I have almost no doubt my post will be received well. That said, I do think several elements of this transformation reflect a significant change. I’m moving away from a personal journal entry into something I intend an entire community to consume and more importantly respond to. A forum post is much more organic and alive, subject to change, revision, and unexpected directions. I’m honestly tempted to make a post even if I don’t make this experiment my semester project, because I definitely have stuff to get off my chest.

2 thoughts to “Positivity on the Internet (no, for real)”

  1. Vivek,

    Your post is extremely easy to read and I think that your voice really shines through in your writing. Your links to the whole reddit page as well as the individual posts added to your post and helped me to understand the genre you’re looking to mimic. In your post you mentioned that many of the hospice posts were words of advice or questions, so, I was wondering which route you plan to go. Also, will you only be writing one post, or a series? I think it could be worthwhile to also add comments to others’ posts in order to add to the conversation.

  2. Vivek,
    I like your decision to hone in on a particular online forum, r/hospice, since it gives your piece a strong sense of focus and clarity. I also found your explanation of the various features of an online forum to be helpful, as I have almost no experience in this genre personally. That being said, I am wondering how you plan to address the fact that your piece might stick out too much on this forum considering that, as you said, nearly all of the posts offer questions or advice and your piece does not seem to fit cleanly into one of these categories. I also think your piece could benefit from using a mix of both formal and informal language, rather than purely one or the other, in specific sentences.

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