As our world becomes increasingly revolved around the internet, so is the conversation of whether or not this technology is good or bad. Does it help communication or does it hinder communication? It was very hard for me to read Resisting Alienation: The Social Construction of Internet Communities Supporting Eating Disorders by Jessi McCabe. This just happened to be the first article I decided to read and it made me quite angry. Being a dancer, I know the pressure to be “skinny” and I attended a professional dance conservatory for two years. Many of my close friends suffered from eating disorders and it is a sick disease to watch someone go through. Of course all of us cared about our bodies because we needed them to be healthy so they can work for us, but some people took it to the eating disorder level. Like the article mentions, I’ve looked up how to lose weight or get in better shape online, which I’m sure many many other people have but this article describes entire websites dedicated to pro-ana (for anorexia) lifestyles, which are not okay. Of course I was aware that they do exist but I didn’t realize the extent until reading this article. These individuals find a community online, much like in video games and social networks as we have discussed before. When individuals do not know who to turn to, they look for an anonymous person online to connect to. These pro-ana communities promoting eating disorder behaviors and supporting eachother make me sick. Eating disorders are not a joke and I think that online communities are just adding fuel to the fire.
On the other hand, I do know that there are positive organizations out there that seek to educate and convince individuals with eating disorders to get help. The internet opens doors to spread awareness of what an awful disease this is, encourage people to get help, and show them where the get it. I actually recently became aware that Instagram, image sharing social network, puts up warning messages if someone searches images tagged as “skinny”. The message warns you that the images may be graphic and that if you need help or want to learn more to “click here”. So, it is interesting to see both sides of the situation. The internet allows for these pro-ana communities to develop but it also allows for the spreading of organizations that are pro-recovery and pro-acceptance.