The majority of jobless people, laid off during the recent economic downturn, face a multitude of harsh realities: loss of medical insurance, falling behind on mortgages, ruined credit, and, in the wake of years full of economic prosperity, little to no established support system to help them deal with these recent tough times and keep them from succumbing to the new realities of our Great Recession.
As a result, many unemployed Americans are turning to online support groups for empathy and insights as they traverse this often unfamiliar economic territory.
According to The Huffington Post, many are turning to a Facebook organization called "Extend Unemployment Benefits", “where jobless people from across the country gather to offer support and advice to each other, discuss the latest in unemployment news, and rally together to petition Congress to extend unemployment benefits. One active group member, Brian Yeagle, uses the site regularly to motivate other unemployed people to vote and call their senators. ‘I have been on the phone for the last 3 hours straight calling Senator's offices, pushing the message Tier 5 to Survive!!" Yeagle wrote on the page Monday. "Please continue to call, email, and fax today and everyday, this is the only way we are gonna make this work.... Please don't give up now!!’”
These social media support groups are far from a new phenomenon. A plethora of online options for the newly and long-term unemployed looking to interact with others similarly-situated have sprung up since the beginnings of the recession in 2008, expressing as HuffPost put it, “a strong need for solidarity and commiseration among the jobless during this excruciatingly drawn-out period of high U.S. unemployment.”
One such website dealing with the drawn-out employment doldrums is Unemployed-Friends.com, a sort of social network for those suffering in these tough financial times where site hosts post important information concerning upcoming bills and other pending legislation primed for adding new jobs or extending unemployment benefits, the latest job posts and grants, and further networking opportunities. Other sites, like JoblessJoe.com are all about the conversation and dialoguing, giving this online community of the unemployed or underemployed the unique opportunity to share their personal stories, post to forums featuring all-important feedback on member resumés and offering tips of the trade when trying to save during this especially tough economic era.
As HuffPost found, “for some users, like Troyer, the sense of community in these online support groups is so strong that they are staying active on the sites long after they become re-employed. Troyer, who finally found a job in July making about $17,000 less than she was making in her previous job, said she continues to offer support and advice to people on the ‘Extend Unemployment Benefits’ Facebook page because it gives her a sense of purpose, even though her own financial situation has improved. ‘When people have interviews, I cheer them on and give them advice as far as how to answer questions. It helps me to respond to other people because I can see they're in worse shape than I am," she said. ‘Helping them helps me.’”
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