One Small Breeze Could Push You Over

As part of my means to keep myself occupied and happy I have started to listen to music more frequently, constantly in fact. For this my laptop comes in handy when in the house: wifi, itunes, it’s got all the mod-cons – so today I turn my laptop on and decide it’s a youtube day, I’ve moved about a couple of artists during the day and am currently listening to Gramatik for anyone wondering. But as usual when I open Chrome, I have to check Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and my fantasy league team (I’m not doing very well, I gave up about the same time Sherwood took over – my team is lacking a manager who gives a crap, I feel like I should give up in solidarity).

Facebook however poses different problems, other than my lack lustre performance in the fantasy league table; along with all the usual nonsense of Facebook I have been dealing with an onslaught of “recommended pages” about weight loss, (“how to lose fat FAST”, “get bikini ready, summer’s on its way”, and the like) . The internet is a dangerous place.

I want to address two points of contention I have with this; my own personal feelings and how it affects me, and Facebook’s responsibility to weigh the economic benefits against the social and psychological repercussions of allowing companies/websites/products market in this way on Facebook.

I’m finding myself wondering whether Facebook is now going to have to be one of those things that I have to avoid, like “women’s” magazines and restaurants that print the calories next to each meal on the menu. Having never clicked on one of these “Get Thin Quick” links, I’m unsure as to why they keep popping up, which can only mean that any of the direct marketing is coming from the age and gender that is easily available on Facebook – so because I’m female and 24, I obviously want the secret to “dropping kgs in just days”  *sighs*. I know that Facebook doesn’t know about my problems, I know that when these adverts pop up on my news feed that everyone at FBHQ is not sitting there laughing at my pictures and telling me that I need to lose weight, that I’m not pretty and that I should under no circumstances wear a bikini even if it’s 35 degrees outside – I know this, but it doesn’t stop me thinking it.

For that split second that I see it as I scroll passed, the before and after picture, the layers of fat on your body, the pseudo-scientific illustrations of molecules, all of it makes me panic – my heart starts, my mouth goes dry, the edges of my vision start to blur as I focus in and am compelled to read. I read, dust it off, but the heart rate is still elevated, I’ve started to feel sick and the thoughts keep creeping about my brain – I know they’ll be there a while, in the foreground, before I can push them back to where they are quieter, where they don’t intrude. Facebook doesn’t know this. Facebook isn’t attacking me, but I feel attacked; I feel like the rest of the world is hell bent on sabotaging my recovery, my days, my life – it’s perpetual, and I have no idea how to throw a spanner in the works, how to make it stop turning over and over and over.

So the rest of my day is pretty much a struggle: a struggle to eat, a struggle not to eat. I battle against the urge to run up and down my stairs, to go and run my lunch off as soon as I eat it. I try to carry on as normal. I try to ignore spending too much time alone, at least alone in the sense that I’m left with my thoughts, so I keep going.

Then I have to face proper human interaction, 5pm has rolled round and the law abiding, model citizen, tax paying family are starting to arrive back at the house. I’m in a bad mood. I do not need to be asked how my day went. It didn’t. It just didn’t. But I smile and say that I was bored so I baked cupcakes (they were good, I still don’t know why baking relaxes me, it seems like such a strange paradox…). But I can breathe, the day is almost over, but it’s another one that I’ve spent in battle – I can’t chalk this one up to progress, I’m fighting to remain in the same place, to not step over that edge.

But, I can’t help feeling that there may be people on FB today that have scrolled past one of these adverts; false promises that you can look like a person they’re telling you to look like because that image makes them money – they reinforce a generic “look” because we’re already brainwashed to react to that image – there are many who will, and have, worded this better than me, of that I am sure. However, what if there are people scrolling past, who are on that ledge, this ledge that I’m struggling to keep my balance on; those that have climbed back up from rock bottom, those that are edging closer to their own decent, those that are losing their own battle and are a light breeze away from falling? Why is FB okay with being that, not so little, wind? Why are they okay with (albeit, potentially) pushing people over the edge?

The money shouldn’t be enough, not when peoples’ health is involved, it should be a no-brainer – do not reinforce negative body image.

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