“We live in a culture where everyone’s opinion, view, and assessment of situations and people spill across social media, a lot of it anonymously, much of it shaped by mindless meanness and ignorance.”
Mike Barnicle, Print and Broadcast Journalist
“By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”
Oscar Wilde, Author
Eating Disorder Awareness Week is once again upon us. That week when walks are held, buildings are lit in the blue and green colors chosen by the National Eating Disorder Association. Lunches will be held. Speeches will be given. Some people will appear before the clerks of Legislators and will tell their story. Maybe some movies or documentaries will be shown. And for many, we will feel good about ourselves believing we are making a difference. We will pat ourselves on the back and then go back to business as usual.
And if we believe the statistics, during this week, another 162 lives will be snuffed out by this insidious disease. 162 people who will never again see a sunset, or feel the gentle caress of a loved one, or smell freshly cut grass in the spring time, or wake up with hopes that today will surely be better. 162 souls.
And all the while, society for the most part will continue to not notice. On Friday, February 22, 2019, the local Dallas/Fort Worth CBS affiliate aired a story on Manda Welch. Manda has been struggling with eating disorders most of her life. It was an insightful story and included the manner in which social media interacts with eating disorders. The video appears at the end of the article.
If that were the end of the story, most of us would applaud the story and then move on with our lives. Sadly, it is not. On the CBS DFW page on Facebook, immediately after the story was aired, the comments from viewers began to pour in. The following are those comments. The names and messages have not been changed to protect the ignorant:
- Lisa Maciuba She gave up chocolate milk and croutons at the age of 6….BECAUSE SOOO MANY 6 YEAR OLDS LOVE CROUTONS!!! WTF???
Tara Hood My six year old eats a ton of croutons!! 😂
Lisa Maciuba Tara Hood that’s something I wouldn’t even think about
Dennis Monares I loved eating croutons at 6, 41 years later and I still eat them.
Lisa Maciuba Dennis Monares I was more into sweet tarts and novelty candy!
Jo Richardson Social media hasn’t made anyone do anything
Christina Dixon Jo Richardson right. Just as many food ads, guess I can blame them for this extra 30 pounds I’m carrying? 👎
Jo Richardson Christina Dixon C,I hear ya
Dennis Monares Social Media makes me laugh.
Kyle Jones Jo Richardson it made me fat…and Chinese.
Brandon Collins Quit blaming other people for your issues
Home | Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
Jeff Scott So her mental illness is somehow social media’s fault. I don’t think so. Sorry, her mental illness. Her problem.
Deb Kirksey Alexander So they want Big Brother watching 🤔Grow up take responsibility for yourself/friends. It’s not social media business 🙄
Victor Guerrero Just eat and shut up …lol
Jim White Disorder ≠ disease
RW Singley You mean like stop posting her pictures?😵
Macias Cesar Montoya Gtfo
Crystal Mougier Du Plessis Get the hell off of social media if it’s affecting you that badly and you can’t mentally handle what you are seeing…problem solved 🤷♀️ …. you don’t need to be part of social media… so stop using it…
Krista Davis Okkkkk where were her parents while she was in MIDDLE SCHOOL and not eating for a week….
Katherine Welch Krista Davis her parents were naïve and didn’t notice because they were busy with their own addiction.
Wesley Becknal Hahaha people like this are stupid and have a head problem. Pretty sure you weren’t a regular on social media at 6 years old.
Katherine Welch Wesley Becknal first of all I would like to just say you sound very ignorant! You shouldn’t call anyone with any kind of mental health issue stupid! I prayed you or anyone in your family ever suffers from one! Obviously she didn’t say she was using social media at the age of 6! What she said was this started at the age of 6!
Michael Reppond Absolutely right
Dell Stevens Prayers
Ryan Henderson Because it’s social media’s fault you have body image issues……
Misticious Twixx Daniels Ummmm whatttt?
Scott Boyd She needs to logout… while driving to seek professional help.. she needs to grab a burger and some tacos…
Fred Lee Knight You can’t protect someone from themselves.
You have a right to screw up your life how you choose
Joseph Esqueda What happened to personal responsibility?
Anthony Lewis It’s Trump and Obama’s fault. Did I leave anyone out?
Constance Chitman-Cage I have disordered eating. (EDNOS) So i get what she’s saying but it’s no ones fault what’s going on inside your own head. Trust me I’ve been dealing with this for a long time. Well before social media.
Just log off. That simple. If it’s making you feel some kinda way, walk away.
Cathy Gentry It’s not a dam disease it’s a choice like being alcoholic or dope head no disease choice
Cylena Morris-Smith Don’t join social media.
Estefana Chavez Don’t blame social media, see a real doctor
Floyd R Robinson Stated at 6 years old? She should be calling out her parents.
Debby Kastigar It’s always someone else’s fault.
Mandy Alsop log off. that simple
Austins Ossai NO THEY DO NOT
Zo Lopez She needs to hang around her Mexican friends she’ll be be fat by the summer.
The ignorance spewed forth by these people “span the globe.” Parents were blamed. Fingers were pointed. Suggestions to see a “real doctor.” Don’t blame social media! Anorexia is a choice not a real disease. Promulgating the stereotypical behavior of Hispanics. Baseless hostility. Cruel remarks meant to pass as humor one supposes.
And the ignorance came forth equally from African-Americans, Anglo-Americans, Hispanics, and men and women of all ages.
It would be very easy to simply blame this diatribe of short sighted, uninformed pablum on those who are not educated about, do not understand or refuse to grasp the deadly nature of this disease. Perhaps that has always been the case and those people have always existed. In 1830, Victorian author and playwright, Edward Bulwer-Lytton referred to people of that ilk as, “the Great Unwashed.” The only difference seems to be that now the internet and social media allow anyone to parade their ignorance in full public view for all to see.
But, it is more than that. The issue also lies elsewhere. Perhaps the issue lies at our doorstep. Perhaps it lies at the feet of us, those in the eating disorder industry and community. We speak of increasing eating disorder awareness. And yet, we tend to stay in the same, comfortable circles. We solicit money from the same financial resources. The only people who attend seminars or education classes are those in the eating disorder industry. We hold our “fun walks,” and for the most part, the only people who attend are those who have suffered from this disease, their friends and treating professionals. And the myth of “the rich, little white girl’s disease” lingers and permeates mainstream society.
The federal government ignores us. The state governments ignore us. We lobby on bills that are designed to help the private equity owned residential treatment centers in the industry while ignoring mainstream public knowledge. And our children continue to die.
So, this next week, as we pat ourselves on the back, as we hold ourselves out as doing great and mighty things, perhaps we should again read the messages and comments above. That is not just mainstream America but it is prevalent on a worldwide basis. Those people are part of our current legacy. And during Eating Disorder Awareness Week, 162 more souls will be taken. 162 families will be shattered.
And we must ask ourselves, have we in fact, failed in our messaging? A great opportunity lies before us. We have the opportunity to take the poor, huddled masses, those who would otherwise not come to us and tell them “Come as you aren’t!” We can help you. We can guide you to a more soulful enlightenment.”
For the sake of those 162 and the millions in that Army of Warrior Angels, we must embrace that opportunity to reach out to those who live in ignorance of this disease and tell them “Come to Us as You Aren’t!”