The influence of social media these days makes things more accessible than they ever were. Our capabilities to get news and other forms of information faster is at an all-time high which makes the internet more addicting and more influential. With all this new technology comes great things but at a cost. Some of the influences websites have, especially social media, impact people in a negative fashion. One site in particular, Tumblr, has started to influence its audience opinions by the way it romanticizes mental illness.

The site Tumblr was created back in 2007 and was initially used as a forum that allows users to post multimedia and other content for a short-from blog. When I started to use the site, the demographic from my eyes was known as ‘hipsters’ or the more artistic type of people. It became popular for amateur artists to showcase their work in a no-judgement space but also a place where people who are not comfortable sharing things about their personal lives in real life to share via the internet. The virtual forum that the site creates hides the individual doing the posting and crates a buffer that makes people feel safe. This safety net allows for people with problems to come out of their shell and open up to their followers who listen with open ears and eyes. Unfortunately, this trendy website became more and more popular, allowing this sensitive and artistic material to a more main stream audience. These posts sharing struggles of peoples personal lives became popular and their popularity made them seem ‘cool’ and ‘in.’ Many of these posts had to do with pictures of scarred arms and anorexic or bulimic individuals. This burst of popularity became a new form of romanticizing mental illnesses and the internet is not responding well.

The positive response to the posts that were being shared on Tumblr made these mental illnesses cool and encouraged other people to reblog and repost things that have to do with mental illness. It became a trend for people, mostly women, to associate tragic with beautiful. As a push to try and erase stigma around mental illness, mental illness became beautiful and sought after. This hurt the part of Tumblr that was looking for help and looking for people to listen to their cries for help.
This romanticism of mental illnesses became more prominent which created backlash of people who started calling out the beautification of these traumatic illnesses. They started replying with aggressive messages urging people to stop making pain ‘beautiful’ and ‘cute.’ This brought to my attention that sometimes, peoples definition of ‘art’ can be detrimental and harmful to others. This begs the question, is there a line that has to be drawn when deciding what we should consider beautiful or artistic? Is it just for us as a society to judge each other based off of what we consider beautiful or not? If something can be harmful to other members of society, do we have the jurisdiction to tell others they cannot deem certain works beautiful?

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Allie L

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