We are all familiar with with life’s dichotomies, the good with the bad, the wholesome with the disturbing, and the cake with the calories (damn you calories!). I love the internet, there…I’ve said it. If my fiancee ever accused me of extra-marital affairs, it would be with my laptop. I just can’t get enough of the internet, with blogs and shopping and social media, and all those lovely people to chat to while ordering from Asos and drinking tea. If you’re reading this, the chances are you know all about the loveliness that is the web, and so I shall fast forward to the topic of the day – the not so seemly side of social networking.
I love the power of instagram and tumblr. The ability to show pictures of yourself, your dinner, or whatever you like, for those in your circles to see and to comment on. If you don’t like it, or unmoved by it, you don’t comment. A 2014 version of ‘of you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. I have been doing that for a while, with pictures I find truly disturbing.
Pro-Ana (encouraging people to starve themselves)
Self-harm (posting pictures of self-harm and inciting it in others)
Drug use (pictures of real time drug use – often by under 18’s)
Those are just three of the things which haunt me to my core. I understand the plight of people of any age in these situations, but to promote these damaging behaviors and show pictures depicting these acts in real time is far far to far.
It’s nothing new – the phenomenon itself. People were posting details about how to cause harm to themselves and each other when I was a teenager (15 or so years ago). The problem with a picture is once seen, it cannot be unseen. In fact, some of the pictures I viewed when conducting a basic Google search to find a picture with a trigger warning were quite disturbing. On tumblr. I searched for ‘body positive’ and within the search results were pictures of people with words carved into their bodies with blades. A search for ‘healthy eating’ turned up pictures of primarily girls so starved they were little more than skeletons. If I were younger and more impressionable, this would say to me ‘this is a picture of a healthy body’. For anyone who is thinking that maybe people would have more sense, please read on.
One quote that I live by is:
Originally attributed to Edmund Burke, but said many times since by different people and with different permutations. I especially support the variation which incites good people to do something. Another discussion for another day perhaps. Bearing this in mind I recently had a thought, ‘I am an adult and a mother, and I am doing nothing about this save feeling really worried for todays youth’. There was no coup. I posted on instagram a comment to a fashion store which I have regularly seen using underweight models. Initially others agreed, but the store then saw fit to incite a bullying mob mentality which saw me lambasted my dozens of users for ‘running healthy bodies down due to jealousy’. I am paraphrasing because quite frankly I would not repeat some of the comments that were aimed at me. The people who had posted in support quickly deleted their comments lest they be subjected to the same treatment.
Bullied at 31? I really thought it was something you ‘aged out of’. It seems not. The account who post the underweight models has since circulated my username, and I continued to receive vile comments long after I removed my comment, not because I do not stand my my original statement, I do, but because I have pictures of my children on my account and I saw how far the hate could reach in such a short time. I have of course since made my account private.
I cried all night – a woman in her 30’s! I reported each and every comment to instagram, and they only removed those comments which they deemed to contravene their guidelines. I asked them to remove the tags, and the same message came back again and again, in short – no! Some will no doubt say I should have kept my opinions to myself but on the day I commented had just seen one to many pictures encouraging young girls, either directly or indirectly to hurt themselves or cause themselves long term damage and harm
On one hand I wish I hadn’t said anything as it has caused me no end of pain, and triggered a protracted episode of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). On the other, I am glad to have had first hand experience of cyberbullying, so I can comment on just how much it hurts, and how many people it affects. ‘Just turn the computer off’ just doesn’t wash when we have big social media providers such as Instagram turning a blind eye to indecent images and cyberbullying.
I will not be run off social media by such individuals, but I will be raising my voice along with many other parents for an end to easy access to disturbing images and a tolerance for bullying in any form on social media. We as parents can only do our part if the big names in social networking do theirs. We as parents need to stand up and say – this is not ok! Who’s with me?
Thanks so much for reading
PS. I have been pointed towards some resources which I think may be worth investigating – if you know of any other charities or initiatives please do post them in comments and I will do a follow up post. Thanks friends xXx