Jessi McCabe’s article really captured all of my interest this week. One of my good friends suffers from an eating disorder, so I am very familiar with all the things she talks about in her article. My friend was aware of these types of websites and she did visit them to look for tricks and tips on how to hide this disease from her family, which she was successful with for a very long time. But when her family found out and got her REAL support, she realized how damaging those websites and groups were to her health.
Jessi McCabe shows how online communities can be good and bad, and how can be supporting or damaging to one’s life. And the numbers she provides us with are astonishing, I never would’ve guessed that that many people go online to seek support. But like she said, most people keep this a secret from others, and only go on these pages for tips and tricks, and they don’t actively post.
More than 90 million Americans have sought support through an inline group to communicate shared interests, concerns, beliefs- Horrigan, 2001
These groups can be damaging because of the anonymity that comes with it. Before the Internet, people had to physically find people that shared this nonstandard beliefs but these groups give them easy access to finding others similar to them. And even with the anonymity, people become very close when they share these interests. Now my friend is apart of a group on Facebook where people openly post about their progress with their eating disorder, and they share contact information with each other in case they are having a bad day and need someone to talk to. They become so close, and tell each other such intimate information that they consider each other best friends without even meeting one another.
This reminds me of something that happened in my high school that had a “cult-like” following that McCabe speaks of. A group of kids from my school made a page of memes that were about people from our high school. Some had the pictures of the most popular memes like Scum Bag Steve, Y U NO Face, Overly Attached Girlfriend, etc. but SOME actually had people’s pictures they uploaded to Facebook or the internet with mean, hurtful things written about them. One was about me, and it made fun of the birthmark on my face. This online community was comprised of bullies who needed a screen to hide behind, and that relates to McCabe’s article because some online communities need a screen to hide behind because their views and beliefs are very nonstandard in our society.