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We Meet The Enemy On The Social Web.

I was starting to feel I was un-shockable. Working in advertising with lots of young-creative-wired people, I see just about everything, or at least I thought I did.

And then today I discovered Ana. Also known as the Pro Ana movement. Or Proana.

Ana is a global community committed to supporting and encouraging anorexics in their achievement of ever more harrowing weight loss goals.
I’m shocked. And I’m shocked that I’m shocked.

What’s next, Pro-Dep, for people who want to be more depressed? Is there a Pro-OCD community? If so, I don’t want to read the comments!

How about a Pro-IBS community? Could I troll the message boards to figure out what I’d have to eat to shit pure liquid 100% of the time?

OK, I’ve tried humor as a coping mechanism, but the shock hasn’t worn off.

People die of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders. These are compulsive behaviors that girls and young women , mostly but not exclusively, use to remain unconscious of what would be rather harrowing emotions if they felt them. It’s a viciously circular death spiral if ever there was one. I have known young, promising woman who have died of this. I knew one woman whose heart was so badly damaged that a half a beer would throw her into unwakeable state. Anorexia is serious, insidious and intractable. I have worked – as a humble intern – along side doctors, nurses and social workers who were fighting valiantly against this killer. I have seen how hard won is the little bit of progress they sometimes achieve. And I have seen the slips and the losses too.

So, to find that in addition to all the internal hardness of anorexia is now added a ready social support system, in short to find that the murderer has committed, connected allies all over the world… well, I am just shocked!

I, who have been saying that it’s a social world for nearly a decade. I ,who write here and elsewhere regularly about how the social web changes everything. I have finally been caught off guard. And I’m disgusted. And, admittedly, intrigued.

The personal is now social.

We need to meet the enemy on the field of battle, which is now the social web. If the disease has a social support system, then the cure must have an even more powerful social support network.

The battle lines are drawn.

Let’s fight, socially.