I love the internet, and I love social media even more. But let's face it, there are some really dark corners of the 'net out there. Social media for me now is a place to share things I love; quick snaps of yummy things I've baked on Instagram, blog posts I've poured my heart into on Facebook, and snippets of what's making me feel good on Twitter. However, it wasn't always like that. Twitter used to be a place for me to vent, a place I'd go to and angrily scrawl song lyrics into a tweet. And the only other platform I really used was tumblr.
Before I really got into the platform, I was warned against it by some of my closest friends. All three of us suffered with self harm and depression, and they told me that it'd be a mistake. I promised I wouldn't look into the 'dark side' of tumblr. I lied. It's a site where there's no real kind of monitoring. If I see someone tweeting #thinspo pictures, or Instagramming self harm, I can report them, or block them and it'll go away. But with tumblr? There's no real protection, especially if part of you doesn't want protecting.
I really wanted to go with a black and white 'theme'. I wanted to follow accounts that reblogged pictures with emotive quotes about mental health issues. I wanted to be in the 'community' of people on tumblr who suffered with self harm, in the hope of connecting with people that felt the way I did. Although in some respects I got what I wanted, I also got a whole lot that I didn't.
My dash(board) was now full of images and gifs that summed up the way I was feeling. But, interspersed with them were things I didn't need to see: thinspo accounts with seriously underweight girls calling themselves fat, words cut into people's skin to define what they hated about themselves, and more. This isn't what I came to tumblr for, but it's what I got wrapped up in.
It's almost a kind of competition over there. People regularly post pictures of their self-harm, which is always going to make you compare yours to theirs. I know that mine got a lot worse because of these images: clearly I wasn't doing enough damage to have a 'problem'. Then there's a whole corner of the site where you have people counting down their weight, and posting pictures of them getting thinner and thinner. It's a dangerous place to be. A really dangerous place to be. If there's one site that I wish could be banned, purely for the easy access it gives teens to images or texts posts like these, it would be tumblr.
And yes, obviously not everyone uses it for these purposes. For some it's a place to get politically inspired, for others it's a place to visit 'for the aesthetic'. But for a lot of people, it's a deep, dark and terrifying place.