What is the Web of Loneliness all about?
The Web of Loneliness (WOL) is geared towards raising awareness and providing support for individuals who feel lonely. This online support group is one of the many strands in the WOL. There is also information about loneliness, artwork,poetry, quiz, and blog in the WOL as well. Through awareness-raising and support, I hope that visitors to the WOL begin to gain some relief from their feelings of loneliness.
Who pays for the online support group?
The WOL is able to provide this support group service through advertising dollars as well as donations provided by members. Unlike Yahoo! Groups and Ning networks, there are opportunities to help support the group by purchasing online gifts and upgrading your membership subscription (forthcoming).
Who runs the WOL online support group?
The group is lead by WOL president, Sean Seepersad, who is the creator of the WOL. In addition to Sean, there are various moderators and volunteers who help facilitate discussion and ensure that it is a safe environment were people can share and provide support to others. To find out more about Sean Seepersad and his interest in loneliness, please visit: http://www.webofloneliness.org/the-founder.html
How did the Web of Loneliness begin?
The Web of Loneliness was first created in 2001 as a website. Its original intention was to collect data from visitors to the website about their level of loneliness, ways that they cope with loneliness, and ways that they use the Internet. To entice people to visit the website, there was also information about loneliness, along with loneliness artwork. Visitors were also encouraged to submit their own artwork as well. The information gathered from the survey on the website was later published and showed that individuals who cope with loneliness in similar ways (positively or negatively) whether online or offline. You can get a copy of the published paper here. However, quite unexpectedly, the website proved to be very popular: attracting a significant number of visitors everyday and rising up the ranks on search engines. I also began receiving multiple emails from visitors wanting more information about loneliness.
About a year later in June 2002, an online support group for people who were lonely was established. The online support group was created on Yahoo! Groups and allowed individuals to post up their stories and experiences of loneliness and reply to other people's posts. The online support group remained on Yahoo! Groups for 7 years, until 2009. At its height, there were over 1,000 posts a month and enrollment reached 500 members. In 2009, the online support group was transferred over to the Ning Network and it is what you see today. Ning allowed for greater functionality that Yahoo! Groups and allowed for a more "Facebook" type of experience with members having multiple means of expressing themselves (such as blogs, posts, links, statuses, etc.). Since the transfer in 2009, the group has grown steadily.
In 2016, we migrated away from Ning and are now on a new platform (called SocialEngine). The migration allowed us to have a better looking website, with a more user-friendly interface, greater functionality, and greater reliability.
The Web of Loneliness website itself has steady grown as well. It now has a collection of over 200 pieces of artwork collected from visitors over the years, a blog, and social media outreach including a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
In May 2011, The Lonely Screams was published. The book contained a collection of stories that visitors to the Web of Loneliness donated to share with others who are experiencing loneliness themselves. It also contained some information about loneliness and how it related to each of the stories described in the book.
What is the Web of Loneliness Institute, Inc.?
The idea for the Web of Loneliness Institute arose out of the need to expand the activities of the Web of Loneliness website. The website and related activities have been primarily aimed at increasing awareness about the issue of loneliness. However, in interacting with individuals who experience loneliness, it became more and more obvious that more needs to be done than just making people aware of the issue of loneliness. People are looking for answers, some of the answer are on the Web of Loneliness and some of them are not available. People are also looking for help to deal with their loneliness, practical solutions in the real world and not just online. The Institute is geared towards expanding the work started by the Web of Loneliness website by expanding the awareness activities, finding answers, and providing solutions to individuals who feel lonely.
Going forward, the Institute will be heavily focused on bringing loneliness to the forefront of the national agenda, by conducting activities such as a nationwide poll on loneliness and a documentary on loneliness. It will also start sponsoring research initiatives geared towards answering increasing our understanding of loneliness. Over time, the Institute will also begin shifting activities towards providing solutions to individuals who feel lonely and professionals who work with the lonely.
If you would like to learn more about the Web of Loneliness Institute and support its activities, please visit http://www.webofloneliness.org/