EATING DISORDER OR SOCIAL MEDIA. WHICH CAME FIRST?

Social Media Marketing Mix | by Blogtrepreneur [CC BY 2.0]

 

EATING DISORDERS, PUT SERIOUSLY, ARE DANGEROUSLY ON THE RISE TO WIPING OUT GENERATIONS.

 

Want to know why…? Then just keep reading!

 

Eating disorders are part of a simple yet problematic process. Yes, on a medical level eating disorders are psychological conditions characterised by disturbed eating habits and can be controlled by CBT. Simple enough right? But these disorders have to begin somewhere, a fuel to the fire so to say. On a completely opposite end of the spectrum, a societal spectrum, eating disorders are complicated by the influences that are put on them, from start to end. So no, on a technological level, eating disorders have become far trickier to control due to current digital impacts and so many questions have risen as to what’s to blame. To me, social media stands out as its birth is when the spikes in the numbers of eating disorders truly grew out of hand. Coincidence or correlation, this post will try to unpick the truth.

 

So here’s one to think about.
“The more time spent on Facebook, the more likely people are to self-objectify themselves”. Is the BBC on the right track?

 

Social Media

Let’s start here. From the creation of the first computers in the 1940’s, networks became the big sensation! Networking, to connect and interact, became popular through a little thing called the Internet. From emails to relay chats the internet developed into a sort of professional and sophisticated programme. Social media is a construct of the internet, a current network that has popularised andrecently surged to commence the internet’s expansion in communication. Social media took off a while back in 1997 with the first release of ‘Six Degrees’ and has had an endless stream of growth ever since.

 

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You’ve heard of these, right?
Well if you haven’t, they have taken this society by storm, with over 3.1 billion users, (that’s almost half the world’s population!) these sites have truly encompassed our day to day lives. We have become obsessed and cultivated by the capacity and speed at which we can, essentially, put ourselves out there and connect with people in just a few clicks.

 

With this amazing technology however comes negative aspects. Excessive use can prove harmful to users, almost to the point of a dysfunctional surveillance. This activity is continued by the likes of photo editing and face tuning. Taken by inspiration from big shots such as magazines and TV, altering the way you look speedily entered the world of social media. These became incredibly powerful influences on personal expression and body image; the BBC going as far to say that people were seeing the world through a filter, and that’s not healthy.

 

Video source: news.sky.com/uk

 

Eating Disorders

Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Familiar with these too?
These, and many more, are classified as eating disorders that are situated around distorted relationships with food, eating habits and body image. Commonly the psychological disorders can be treated (or controlled rather) with therapies such as CBT and family-based therapy. So we now know what they are and how they are treated, but when did they first come around? The first medical documentation of eating disorders was anorexia in 1680’s by Dr. Richard Morton of London. Now that’s a throwback. Eating disorders were part of the medical community but were not universally known by the general public and this is what causes speculation, the speculation being the Internet. In the 1990’s the World Wide Web was a huge accessory that joined the Internet and made it what we know it is to this day. It’s funny how eating disorders came out of their shells at the exact time the Internet kicked off.

 

Here’s the low down. In the time frame of 2000 and 2009 the first social media platforms took off and become insanely popular. It was also reported that there was a 5% rise in diagnosis of eating disorders per 100,000 of the population in the world. Today over 30 million people in the USA and nearly 725,000 people in the United Kingdom are diagnosed with eating disorders and it can only be assumed that those statistics are part of the 3.1 billion social media users online.

 

Social media endorses social comparison. It’s a down spiralling trend that, funnily enough, begun from share ability (a little thing social media knows too much about). That sense of common ground to be like someone else has put immense pressure on many today and refined an appearance culture. Internalising messages from surroundings is one thing, but when your surroundings are social media’s unrealistic ideals of slenderness and perfect bodies, as the BBC had right, it has become increasingly easy to self-objectify. The question lies in your hands, social media and eating disorders. A coincidence or correlation?

 

The Nitty & Gritty: Social Media’s Effect on Eating Disorders

To simply answer the question, yes, eating disorders have been around far longer than the lifespan of social media. However, the widespread of both phenomena’s is too interconnected to say a digital impact has not taken place. Andrew Scrowcroft, one of my previous Tutors in Communications and Culture, went as far to say that “It would be wrong to solely blame social media because we do not have to use it. It is the competing pressures around social media, the way people use it, that is of greater concern”. Social media, in my mind, must find a way to combat these underlining issues and so together we must try to understand how to reverse these effects and promote recovery.

#ThinspirationRubbish   #A4PaperChallengeNonsense   #SocialObjectifying

 

Make sure to bookmark this page and tune in EVERY 3 DAYS AT 7PM to catch up on all things mental health in the digital world. What did you learn today? Drop a comment to let me know and feel free to follow my Twitter in the meantime.

 

UP NEXT: DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND THE MEDIA

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