Anorexic or bulimic individuals may find support from others who battle with an eating disorder, and having a support system is a beneficial for recovery. However, we must make sure that the support system we lean on has the mindset of recovery and not the mindset of reaching weight goals.
For example, Tumblr.com has a large community of anorexic and bulimic bloggers, and many of them support each other through their similar battles, yet in negative counterintuitive ways. Instead of encouraging their fellow strugglers that there is hope and that they can all get better, the majority instead encourage each other to keep starving themselves and to work towards their goal of being (unhealthily) thin. It is kind of like a mob mentality, in a self degrading way, and this can apply to all aspects of mental heath on the site whether it be depression or other mental disorders. Being surrounded by an unhealthy mindset like this can detriment one’s recovery by motivating them in the wrong direction. Thus, we must be careful of what blogs to follow, what forums to read, what support groups to join, or what person to talk to.
There is a scene in the Netflix documentary, “To the Bone”, where the character Ellen, who struggles with anorexia, used to have a popular Tumblr account dedicated to looking thin. She posted drawings portraying the type of body she idolized, which grew popular among her fanbase and even prompted one of her followers to commit suicide. She wasn’t necessarily doing anything wrong by freely posting how she felt, but sharing her self-degrading mindset further perpetuated the danger of the disorder within herself and others.
This is not an argument against Tumblr or other social media support groups. This is a realization that one has to be careful.
There are many positives to online sharing communities; information gets spread and others realize they are not alone and become informed on their issues. Knowing that you are not alone and being supported by others who understand your experiences instills motivation and progress. Tumblr can sometimes act as a large support group, and this is great.
One just has to know that negative mentalities and stigmas can be created within the site, and so it is best to know the difference between healthy encouragement that works towards progress and unhealthy encouragement that stalls in distorted thinking.