Does the Internet Glamorize Depression,Suicide,and Other Mental Illnesses in Young Adults?
Eating Disorders and the Internet
When the internet took off in the late 1990s, all sorts of online groups began to develop. Some of these groups became known as Pro-Ana, Pro-Mia and Pro-ED, which are short for Pro-Anorexia, Pro-Bulimia and Pro-Eating Disorders. These terms are used to describe online communities where eating disorder behaviors and attitudes are encouraged. On these sites, users are instructed and motivated to lose weight to be part of an “elite,” though hazardous, online community. Some initially appear friendly and benign. However, they can pose a serious threat to some individuals, not simply because they promote eating disorder behaviors, but because they build a sense of community that is unhealthy. They lure the impressionable and persuade them that the Pro-Ana community is providing caring and nurturing advice.
Now Pro-Ana content appears in far more places and in more diverse formats – such as blogs and social networking sites. It’s also increasingly more difficult to detect Pro-Ana sites. Many are disguised as positive sites where people help each other lose weight together. They come together under the banner of “thinspiration,”dispensing tips and tricks to lose weight. Some begin innocently enough but quickly descend into full-fledged Pro-Ana. In June 2010, researchers from Johns Hopkins studied the content of 180 sites they discovered while searching for terms like “Pro-Anorexia” and “thin and support.” 83% of the sites they viewed contained suggestions for engaging in eating disorder behaviors1. A minority provided information on recovery, but also encouraged eating disorder behaviors. Contradicting information like this may influence innocent and impressionable site users, like children, adolescents and those who already feel isolated.
Whether they are overtly pro-ana or subtly thinspirational, even the slightest exposure to these sites may be harmful to those at risk. A study published in European Eating Disorders Review exposed healthy college girls with no history of eating disorders to 1.5 hours of pro-ED sites and they showed decreased caloric intake the week following their exposure. Some participants admitted using techniques and tips they viewed on the sites and had “strong emotional reactions” up to three weeks after the study.
- Glamorize/idolize images of emaciated or very thin individuals
- Imply food and weight are the enemy
- Encourage and teach dangerous eating disorder behaviors
- Promote thinness at any cost, deny seriousness of illness
- Insist that eating disorders are choices, rather than an illness
- Attempt to mask toxicity by being exclusive and elite
"What you can get sometimes is a reverberating echo chamber of girls who are sharing these experiences, and it pontificates the negative feelings...They often don't want to get out because to leave the community would be to lose the people who understand them." - Laura u
Beautiful death poem (1st picture):
Darkness stars poem (2nd picture)
Eating disorders and the Internet (article):
Moving Photo (4th photo):
Laura U (quote) and Picture of Girl with her eyes closed (5th picture):
Heaven Knows (picture):