Pain Isn't Pretty


In today's society, the media is a place that many people confide in — especially the younger generations. Teens and young adults love everything from movies to television shows — social media websites in particular. These sites are where people from all over the world go to share their ideas and meet new people. Although some users may look at these websites as a blessing, a major downside is the prevalence of destructive behaviors and mental disorders, such as self-harm, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and a whole plethora of other mental illnesses.

"Social media is a great way to find other like-minded people... but also presents the illusion that we're all really connected." - Anna Caltabiano, author of the millennial dystopian novel All That is Red.

The fourteen year-old blog owner of Depression and Disorders, a self-harm Tumblr, says that the blog she runs sometimes helps her. She admitted that browsing endlessly on the website and viewing pictures of self-injury can trigger her behaviors, and even 'encourages her to cut'. Websites and blogs like these can convince young teens that self-harm and/or eating disorders are normal — even healthy. 
   Sherene Chen-See, a medical writer, showed a recent study that established 61% of teenagers battling with eating disorders picked up their weight loss techniques from pro-ana (anorexia) and pro-mia (bulimia) websites and blogs. Some blogs spread misinformation about treatment for these diseases, or even dangerous information on how to harm yourself.
   Every time you reblog a picture of a computer that says 'stupid sad girl' or a pack of cigarettes with a sticky note pasted on it saying 'because you broke my heart', you're contributing to the culture that makes depression seem 'quirky' or 'artsy'. This is most commonly known as enabling.
   On Tumblr, being anxious, depressed, mentally ill, or having low self esteem is romanticized and often regarded as artistic, mysterious, and poetic.

Video by tumblr user "giantquidofawesome"

"When you look at secular trends and epidemiological research completed over the last several decades, there seems to be a slow and fairly consistent increase rate in the levels of depression for each succeeding generation of teenagers."

Today, many depressed teens, like those on Tumblr, say they have all linked to a notion of 'beautiful suffering'. This doesn't mean that every teenager who feels depressed isn't actually depressed, but as Reinecke states again, 
"What you can get sometimes is a reverberating 'echo chamber' of people who are sharing these experienced and these thoughts and it potentiates the negative feelings, the depression."

He believes that identifying with people of similar views — in this case, who claim to be suffering from depression — can reinforce these feelings in the readers.
   Like stated above, this does not apply to everyone; it doesn't mean that every teen out there who is feeling depressed isn't actually depressed. It's important to differentiate between true depression and just plain sadness. 
   A study conducted by Nutrociencia, a nutrition-based organization in Portugal, indicated that teenagers who have never experienced depression before are now jumping on the bandwagon after being exposed to the 'pro-depression' blogs and websites. Many of these people are self-diagnosing themselves as depressed or anxious.
   There is said to be some action being taken to stop these sites and posts. Tumblr has reportedly taken down any glorification posts, but as a personal Tumblr user, I can see that the enforcement is minimum. Along with that, if you search words like 'sad' or 'depressed' on Tumblr, a message pops up to ask if you're okay and offers you websites that can help you if you're distraught, as pictured here:

On another positive note, "with every pro-ana blog comes a body positivity blog. With every depression blog comes an encouragement blog. With every self-loathing blog comes a self-acceptance blog.

All images found on Tumblr.

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