To graduate from the journalism school at the University of Kansas, students must pass a class devoted to the constitution’s first amendment. Throughout this three-credit-hour course, we study the facets that make up the 1791 revision — but, primary focus is on the freedom of speech.
As a journalism student, I always had an appreciation for this freedom. The class deepened that respect even more.
However, I think there’s a difference between the government-provided right to speak freely and the personally determined lines that we all must draw. So, even though we can say anything we want, that doesn’t mean we should.
To make a point near and dear to my own heart, consider pro-ana or pro-mia literature. I think most people would agree there is no redeeming value in a blog, forum, chat room, etc. that promotes anorexia or bulimia. Constitutionally, these have a right to exist. Ethically? No, no, no.
I also think the same goes for many purportedly “healthy living” blogs. That’s because, in some cases, these are little more than sanitized pro-ana or pro-mia blogs.
The thing is, Pursuit of Healthfulness originally started out as one of those blogs. (Not intentionally.) Fortunately, I only had two readers at the time. Unfortunately, I had two readers at the time who may have been negatively influenced by my ridiculous ideas about what was and wasn’t healthy.
Yet, there I was in my little corner of the Internet spewing health advice…
Now, here’s the tricky part: Because I wasn’t initially aware of how disordered I was, I proceeded to blog about it. I’m sure this is the case for some other bloggers out there. The blogs may still promote dangerous habits, but can you blame someone who isn’t aware of it? This is the horribly gray, fuzzy line between ignorant and injurious behavior.
For that reason, I can only really comment on the decision that bloggers make to either continue writing or to stop writing once they become aware of a problem. Not to pat myself on the back, because I’ve seen other bloggers do the same, but I am happy that I owned up to my struggle and stopped blogging when I began treatment for an eating disorder.
Too often, that isn’t the case. Instead, bloggers continue posting meals, talking about excessive workouts and normalizing disordered behavior. I don’t mean to come across as unsympathetic, but I have been negatively affected by the who-eats-less, who-exercises-more game.
My ultimate message to bloggers is that we all need to be careful about what we post. To readers, be careful about the blogs that you choose to follow. At the end of the day, remember that bloggers are just writers with varying credentials.
Note: This was intentionally preceded by the post on the history of my blog. I’m not a perfect example, but taking the time to think about message is something that I think all bloggers — who have some social responsibility when they press “publish” — should take time to do.