In my last post I talked about the merits of keeping a journal, and how writing can be freeing – and even therapeutic – especially during times of stress or illness. In this post I’d like to take the idea of writing one step further into the electronic world, or blogosphere, as it’s often known. “Now just hang on!”, you might be saying. “You just convinced me to start a diary and now you want me to publish it? On the web? For everyone to see it?” Okay, point taken. If you’re new to the journaling/writing game, it may have been a big enough step to buy yourself a notebook and write a few lines a day. Perhaps making the jump to weblog (or blog) creation is a bit steep. But for those of you who are eager to branch out, do keep reading, because the world of electronic publishing is exciting! It’s social and powerful, and…well, let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Blogging has been around for a few years now. Blogs (short for weblogs) are basically online journals that are regularly updated, and they can be about absolutely anything. Sometimes they’re the author’s thoughts and feelings, rants and raves; other times they’re academic in scope, with several people contributing research findings, articles and more. Companies often have blogs that allow customers to see recent news and information about products or services. Truly, the possibilities for blogs are limitless. One of the great things about blogging is that it’s about as easy as using a word processing software, and you don’t have to fuss with hosting a website yourself. There are several free blogging tools out there such as WordPress (the fabulous tool I use for this blog), Blogger, TypePad, LiveJournal and probably a host of others that I just don’t know about yet! Basically you register with a username and password and you’re set. That’s about all there is to it…really! Now, you can go on and get creative by adding photos, links and videos and by customizing your blog with avatars and loads of other cool toys. This stuff takes a bit more savvy, but you can learn as you go. It’s the words that matter most, and if you’ve got something to get off your chest, a blog can be really helpful.
It’s good to know that blogging is considered to be a social networking kind of thing. That is, people can browse around on the web and may just happen to stumble across your blog. They can read your posts and your profile, and can even make comments. If you’re uncomfortable about complete strangers reading your thoughts, you can choose to keep your blog private, just giving out the address to friends, family, or others you trust and want to keep in the loop.
Another strategy is to use a special type of blogging software that by default keeps your information private and secure. These types of sites are becoming more and more popular, and cater to a specific audience. Sites like CaringBridge and Care Pages allow you to create a web page and journal that they will host for you at no cost, and the contents are never searchable, everything is protected for the safety and privacy of their users. If you choose to use CaringBridge, you will set up your site with a unique web address that you can then give out to people you want to stay in touch with during your treatment. The benefit of a site such as CaringBridge is that it allows relatives, friends, co-workers, etc. to keep up to date with your situation without you having to make dozens of calls or send dozens of emails every few days. You can publish updates and they can leave comments offering support and encouragement, which everyone can use, right?
Care Pages operates in pretty much the same way – you create and update your personal website with it’s unique address, and users must log in to be able to view it. Care Pages also offers features such as online support communities called “emotional resource centers”, relevant articles, tips for caregivers, a newsletter and more. It’s easy to get started and Care Pages is dedicated to providing a safe place for you to communicate with friends and family or others who may be sharing similar experiences.
From blogs and online journals to social networks and personal web pages, the internet can be a powerful means of communication. Stay in touch, let others know how you’re doing, post some photos of your family, ask for – or give – support, rant, vent and laugh. If you’re interested in starting a blog or a personal web page, enjoy! I can tell you from experience it’s that first post that is the toughest – after that, things become much easier. And when you surround yourself with the people that matter to you, you’ll be amazed how great it feels to be able to let them in on how things are in your world.
If you have questions, or need more information, please feel free to contact me via the comments section or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!