Tuesday, November 25, 2008

the great facebook outting.

In about a one hour time span, I receive an e-mail from my brother with the link to the following Newsweek article, and my Google Reader informs me of two new posts by Rachel and Jezebel about the same article.

In short - as you can read the article for full detail - what used to be a very secretive and underground community is now becoming very public in an almost "flaunting" nature on one of the largest, most popular social-networking sites: Facebook. Groups are being produced where people can join and share tips and "thinspiration" in what is commonly known as a Pro-Ana community.

The controversy seems to be in whether or not it's better to have it out in the open rather than so secretive. I, myself, am a member of one of the more popular Facebook groups to ban this kind of behavior, as it is, in fact, against their terms and conditions; the groups promote self-harming behaviors to themselves and others.

To the common, logical thinker, the immediate reaction is most likely that this is a disgusting and disturbing situation that needs to be closely monitored and banned wherever possible. It is, don't get me wrong. However, I find myself torn.
I did it. I know a lot of girls I was in treatment with did. We knew the sites, we had the notebooks, printouts of tips and pictures of hauntingly emaciated celebrities and models. It's terrible, especially to people who have never felt so lost in their own mind and so uncomfortable in their own skin that you felt physically imprisoned in your own body. People who have never experienced an eating disorder, first hand, don't know that feeling. The people on these Pro-Ana/Mia webites.. they got it. Please note, I am NOT in any way shape or form condoning these behaviors or promoting these websites. I am just saying I understand why they're out there. It's a support system, when some people have nothing, no matter what they promote.

Is it better to have a harmful support system than to feel completely alone? I know just as well as anyone who has fought an addiction that you cannot get help until you are willing to receive it. What can you do until that point? The world of an eating disorder is tricky.. fragile.. pressuring.. and fucking lonely, support or none.

Do I think that community should be public? No. I have a problem with it being so easily accessible, especially in a predominately high school and college setting where self-esteem and body image are constantly gnawing at these age groups in every day life as it is. Talk about vulnerability. More often than not, Pro-Ana/Mia supporters stand by the fact that eating disorders are a lifestyle, not a disease. It has a very strong, cult-ish vibe. If you ban them, yes, they will still exist. But if they are public, you're just pouring gas on the fire. It's enabling.

This is not a lifestyle. It is one mindfuck of a disease. And I am torn because.. what can you do when people feel like they have no where else to go and don't understand what their own brain is doing to them?


JaRube said...

I can't get this question you posed out of my head:
"Is it better to have a harmful support system than to feel completely alone?"

To skim the surface of the issue you present, I'd say that conundrum illustrates how important it is that a network like yours reach those in need before they latch onto what we deem a "harmful" one.

Beyond that... that question of yours could spark a Master's thesis. I need some time alone with it. I hope to check back here and see what other readers have come up with.


Labyrinith said...

"Mindfuck". What a great word to describe the hell of an eating disorder. Just this morning I was thinking that.
You are right. Girls (yes I was one also in the past who found those sites before asking "P" to block them from my computer-then I was begging for them back, but better off in the end without them) are going to find those groups but I think in a forum like Facebook, especially where-God my nieces and nephews have accounts-I feel like it is so dangerous. To follow-up with what Jay said re: your question of "Is it better to have a harmful support system then to feel completely alone?"-I agree. It is VITAL to get the "Anti-pro ana-mia" network out there (for lack of a better name). People who have been through the hell, are in the hell but want out of the hell and are stuck. These girls who are searching, as we once did-oh I want to just scream (not interpersonally effective I know-had to toss in DBT Speak) that this isn't a lifestyle choice. But, then when does it go from 'trying out' to obsessiveness? How does one know that they might dabble with the information on these sites/groups and fall into the depths we experienced (experience) while others of their friends may walk away unscathed? I am just at a loss (well clearly not). I have to go read the article now.

Michelle said...

Even some of the pro-sites on facebook, aren't moderated as much as they should be. People all over them are triggering and posting things that are not pro-

One of the questions of this is ideally how much is thethe internet affecting our lives, how reliant is someone iwth an eating disoder and are they only relating to wors on a screen? and when are we overly reliant on it. People are lonely, and I think society is accepting, internet as a connection with others, sometimes I think for somepeople it defers human interaction and live therapy of sorts.

emmy. said...

michelle, i absolutely agree. i think people, in general, are far too concerned with things that should not effect our lifestyles in general.. but it's happening. the internet is killing the true meaning of human interaction, but it's so common and popular that the control we have over how people choose to help themselves is very limited.

would eating disorders be easier to prevent without the internet?

Kyla said...

I agree that this is a complicated situation