Online social support and self-care on Facebook: a content analysis of the Forever35 private Facebook group
Towson University. Department of Mass Communication
Citation of Original Publication
The digital infrastructure of online communities enables the facilitation of interpersonal help-giving and help-seeking behaviors while also providing a platform for community members to share information. This study explores the type of content that is available from Forever35, a private Facebook group established for the purpose of bringing members together around the topic of self-care. Using Cutrona and Suhr’s (1992) basic social support dimensions as a guiding framework, this study identifies the various ways in which social support exchanges occur in this members’ only group. Textual analysis is used to examine socially supportive discourse. The findings provide insight on the nature of Forever35 as not only a self-care resource but also as a source for social support. The analyses revealed that the discourse taking place in the Forever35 private Facebook group functions to promote discussion and information sharing by providing a forum where members can solicit and/or provide feedback to one another. In its most dynamic state, these types of community spaces serve as fertile ground for the types of social interactions that can enable social support. Although this study reaffirms that informational support is the most observed form of social support in this group, it also acknowledges the value added benefit of the possibility for the emergence of emotional, esteem, and network support.