By Amina Abdel-Halim:
In the past few years, people have been making disturbing attempts at differentiating themselves from everyone else on social media by using medical terms/negative attributes inappropriately, thinking it adds to their “cool and hipster” internet persona. They may not realize how harmful or oppressive this behavior can be, so to clarify that, we put up a list of terms everyone needs to stop using on social media.
1) No one should ever refer to themselves as “weirdo” or “outcast” for the purpose of attracting attention or making themselves feel like a special snowflake. It’s not cool. It’s not edgy. Living as an outcast is sad, and definitely not something you aspire to. Unlike what the internet may have lead you to believe, it’s not about being different in a cool, trendy way. On the contrary, outcasts are people who face a great deal of trouble fitting in and making friends, and as a result, they lead very lonely lives. So why would anyone ever wish for that?
2) So many people are using the term “psycho” as their Twitter handle or Tumblr URL, without actually knowing what it means. Psychopathy is a neurological condition in which a person is incapable of feeling certain emotions like guilt, shame or empathy. It does not translate into “cool reckless teenager who likes to smoke and write deep poetry after a breakup” but rather someone who could be very dangerous. It is definitely not a term of endearment!
3) Words like “depressed,” “OCD,” and other medical terms, have slipped into our every day vocabulary. But how many of those using them actually know what they refer to? Depression is an illness, a chemical imbalance in the brain, and so is OCD. These are conditions that require awareness and sometimes medical interference. Don’t ever claim to be “depressed” because you’ve had a bad day. And just because someone is weirdly organized, doesn’t mean they have OCD. We may not do this intentionally, but it is definitely a bad habit, one that we all need to work on.
Similarly, anxiety does not mean getting stressed before finals, it’s an actual illness that prevents people from getting on with their daily lives. Don’t call yourself “bipolar” or “schizophrenic” unless you have an actual diagnosis from a mental health-care professional. It’s nothing to brag about, these are terrifyingly dangerous diseases, not just cute little quirks people can add to their Twitter bio.
4) Eating disorders are not a diet. Anorexia doesn’t mean skipping breakfast and losing a few grams. It’s a serious condition that people can be hospitalized for, and it is not, in any way, beautiful or glamorous. Just because a person is unhealthily thin or eats very little, doesn’t mean they suffer from an eating disorder.
And what about the people who actually do suffer from these illnesses, and retrieve to forums and websites like Tumblr where they can openly discuss their condition with people facing similar issues? What about people who are actually undergoing treatment and trying their best to solve their problems and become healthier? How do you think they feel, watching others glorify the very illnesses that prevent them from leading a happy, balanced life?
When someone reblogs pictures of people with self-harming scars or says things like “suicidal people are just angels who want to go back to heaven,” they’re encouraging something INCREDIBLY unhealthy and romanticizing something that should never, in ANY way, be perceived as “romantic” or “glamorous.” There’s nothing romantic about someone being so sad and desperate that they see death as the only way out. Seriously, just because Sylvia Plath did it, doesn’t mean it’s poetic. It’s a tragic thing.
So how about we stop using these terms inappropriately and start standing out in a more positive way? What if instead of showing off with fictional “problems,” we show sensitivity to people going through things we don’t understand? Wouldn’t that make the internet a much happier place?