mainmbutimelinelogo-copy
  • Home
  • News
  • Social Media Fights Social Issues

Social Media Fights Social Issues

As social media grows as our main source of connection, some sites are recognizing the danger in being too connected. 

4-8-15,ChelsieB,SocialMediaGraphic by: Chelsie Bartley

__________________________________________________

Social media has become a fighting force for this generation.

Everything from online petitions about anti-bullying and dropping police charges to relevant news stories can be found with the touch of a button.

However, there is a much darker side to social media.

There are many hashtags and online accounts dedicated to promoting things like self-harm, eating disorders and even suicide.

In response, many social media sites are doing their share to warn of the destructive patterns that following or posting these trending topics can prompt.

In 2012, Instagram banned hashtags like, “thinspo,” “proanorexia,” “probulimia” and “loseweight.”

Their hope was that by banning these, they would discourage users from living that lifestyle.

By posting pictures of protruding collarbones and scary thigh gaps, users could be affirmed by the likes and comments they received by others in the same circumstances by forming communities to support each other.

“I think we should be very wary of having ‘a community of like-minded people’ in these particular struggles. A long-standing problem with ‘group therapy’ is the temptation to validate each other’s harmful behaviors and create a bond that reinforces destructive behaviors, rather than challenging one another to break out of the bondage that they are in,” Dr. Holly Brand, an associate professor of psychology at MBU, said in an email.

Instagram released a statement in April 2012 along with its ban of #thinspo and #thinspiration saying, “Don’t promote or glorify self-harm. While Instagram is a place where people can share their lives with others through photographs, any account found encouraging or urging users to embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or to cut, harm themselves, or commit suicide will result in a disabled account without warning.”

The statement goes on to say: “We believe that communication regarding these behaviors in order to create awareness, come together for support and to facilitate recovery is important, but that Instagram is not the place for active promotion or glorification of self-harm.”

In addition to eating disorders, Instagram has also created a content advisory that pops up anytime the keywords “suicide” or “self-harm” are typed in.

First, the notice warns of graphic content and then gives users the option to learn more about help they can receive.

You can then choose to learn more, continue on to the pictures or cancel and go back.

Instagram isn’t the only site to take a stand against these forms of self-hate.

Pinterest has also started showing public service announcements when certain words are searched.

When “suicide” is typed in, Pinterest delivers the following message: “If you are in emotional distress or thinking about suicide, please know that help is available. For confidential crisis counseling, you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and suicidepreventionlifeline.org.”

A similar message appears after typing in “eating disorders.” It says: “Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening. For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.”

Tumblr and Twitter are also on board with banning certain keywords.

The question that remains for many is, will banning these hashtags really make a difference?

Huffingtonpost.com suggests that the No. 1 step in combating pro-anorexia and suicide accounts is to “stop giving a crap about ‘likes’ as a first step.”

However, Dr. Brand said, “I think that ‘banning’ hashtags that allow people to connect negatively is worthy in theory, but it is impossible to try to regulate something that is a matter of personal self-control. We see this all the time with government regulations — the more regulation you have, the less freedom you have.”

Even though social media is taking a step in the right direction, users will always find a way around the rules.

The hashtags “ana” and “mia,” slang for “anorexia” and “bulimia,” both have an average of 8 million posts on Instagram.

It is worth noting that some of those posts are users speaking out against eating disorders or updating other users of their recovery progress.

“The media feeds into this [lack of identity] by promoting the idea, especially to young women, that their value is derived from their appearance and sexuality,” Brand said. “I think social media feeds right into this beast, but as I just mentioned, I do not think it is the root of the problem.”

As a reminder, depression and eating disorders are in fact mental disorders that if left untreated can lead to more serious issues.

If you or someone you know are struggling with either of these, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the National Eating Disorders Association.

“I have been studying human behavior/adolescent psychology for 20 years and I am firmly convinced, based on all available data, that the root cause of these issues, along with every struggle known to man, is lack of identity,” Dr. Brand said. “As a Christian I know that true identity, value and worth come from the fact that Jesus paid an inordinate price for me — His life.”

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Chelsie Bartley

Chelsie Bartley

Chelsie Bartley is the Creative Editor and a staff journalist for MBU Timeline. She majors in journalism. Chelsie is a student worker for the Office of Alumni Relations and is a Community Leader on campus. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in a non-profit doing events, marketing and design work. Apart from writing, she enjoys eating new foods, exploring St. Louis and being outdoors.

@mbutimeline

MBU Timeline

@TrevorChaney Or even farther back when coaches would actually use water as some sort of reward. Glad those days are gone.

by MBU Timeline

About MBU Timeline

MBU

DID YOU KNOW?
   
Here are some interesting facts about MBU Timeline, the student news network of Missouri Baptist University.
   
*The WordPress site has been up since late-fall 2013. We average about 3,000 sessions and about 5,000 pageviews per month.
   
*Our stories and galleries get as few as 40 or 50 hits, or as many as 8,000 hits.
   
*We have readers in every state and 93 countries around the world. We have several readers in Brazil, the United Kingdom, India and Australia.
   
*Most of our readers are in Missouri, followed by Illinois, California and Texas.
   
*We do not accept advertising as we are a not-for-profit online newsmagazine.
   
*Our mission statement is: MBU Timeline is the student news network of Missouri Baptist University, a private Christian university that embraces the essential core value of “social change through service and leadership.”
   
*The Bible verse that drives our mission is 2 Timothy 2:15 (Worldwide English Version): “Tell the true message in the right way.”
   
*We welcome contributors from all walks of MBU life, regardless of your major. Contact us at: mbutimeline@mobap.edu.