The Internet Has Some Surprisingly Wholesome Places, Here's Where To Find Them
There are places online dedicated to communities that are reinforcing positivity, boosting self-esteem, and jumping in when things get hard.
There is a subreddit (a forum of the aggregating giant, Reddit) entirely dedicated to compliments.
The forum is called 'Toast Me', and was created as a rival forum to the infamous 'Roast Me' community, where users -- almost inexplicably -- post photos of themselves and ask other community members to give extremely cruel, critical comments.
Toast Me is nice. Law-abidingly-nice. The forum's description states "only genuine and unique compliments by awesomely nice people are allowed here".
It's a forum dedicated to community pick-me-ups, where people having a hard time post photos of themselves for the self-esteem or attitude boost.
Toast Me has amassed a following of over 131,000 people and it's an active community, with dozens of posts every day.
"Feeling like I have zero friends or people to talk too [sic]" one user wrote.
"Summer just started and i thought things would be different but i was wrong. Could really use some kind words right now".
Users enthusiastically jump on the feel-good bandwagon.
Toast Me even has guidelines on how to compliment correctly: "As when crafting insults, it is important to reach past the superficial levels of a person's personality, and to touch (and, in this case, praise) a deeper aspect of their character that somehow shines through."
There are rules and these are strictly enforced by the moderators to keep the experience as invariably lovely as possible.
These include: being kind, not offering any unsolicited advice on somebody's appearance, and having fun.
Professor Lindsay Oades, director for the Centre of Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne, told 10 daily the rules are "no different to somebody asking for a hug or asking for positive comments" in real life".
"It sounds like a positive thing if you can guarantee that it's a safe space for a vulnerable person," Oades said.
These communities can be beacons of hope for social media users
Loneliness is a debilitating and growing problem.
One study conducted last year by Swinburne University and the Australian Psychological Society found half of us feel lonely at least once a week.
Over three-quarters of Australians feel lonely at least three times a week.
READ MORE: How I Survived The Loneliness Of Separation
Social media has been widely condemned for its negative influences on mental health.
One 2016 study from the University of Copenhagen found experiences of anger, sadness, depression, and loneliness all significantly dissipated following a week of avoiding Facebook use.
Another study in 2018 from the University of Pennsylvania found limiting students' use of Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook to 10 minutes per day each decreased feelings of loneliness and depression.
One communal excel spreadsheet birthed from the website The Breakup Survival Guide provides the freshly heartbroken with suggestions for music, movies and books to soothe distress.
There are also countless Facebook groups dedicated to providing emotional support to small communities of users. To protect the sanctity of these groups, 10 daily has decided not to publish their names.
So, what's the risk?
Lana*, a member of several women's emotional support groups on Facebook, told 10 daily she joined the pages a few years ago when she felt her mental health was flailing.
"And now that I have good mental I stay in them because I really feel for people who have a shit time," she said.
However, Lana said that their can be a lot of emotional exhaustion involved when members demand too much of the group.
"You will occasionally have people saying they've just self-harmed, or they're about to self harm, or they're thinking about killing themselves that night," she said.
"And If you're the first person to respond, you kind of end up becoming the 'first responder'".
Oades said these online support groups can ultimately be viewed through two lenses: as either healthy or risky places.
"There can be some people with mental health problems who will overdo positive comment-seeking...and certain types of people can be very seductive in the way they present their distress," he said.
Oades said people with Borderline Personality Disorder specifically can sometimes initiate "a black hole of help-seeking".
Lana believes the Facebook groups are still valuable but "there need to be rules so you're not triggering everyone".
Oades adds that these forums and Facebook groups can be particularly useful for younger generations who feel more at ease discussing their problems through the more impersonal format of typing rather than talking over the phone to services such as Lifeline.
"If it [using online groups] becomes a proxy to professional help-seeking that's a problem, there's an element of risk," Oades said.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.