Posts

A dark side of health bloggers {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}
A dark side of health bloggers {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}

My bubble of “healthy-living bloggers are such a supportive and positive community” was just popped.

As happens so often on the internet, I was caught in a rabbit trail that led to me to Get Off My Internets, a forum site dedicated to venting and skewering bloggers. I then spent more time than I want to admit reading through forum pages of some big healthy living and running blogs.

I am ashamed.

I only scanned the forums for blogs I know. Many of them are long gone from my personal reader for various reasons. I even agreed with a lot of what I read. Or at least ended up agreeing. The power of suggestion went something like this: Oh yeah, I guess that is annoying. It always bothered me when {blank} wrote {blank}. Now I know why. Even worse: I understand how {blank} could be irritating, but I never noticed. Except now I will. Every time.

It seems I have avoided a dark corner of the internet until now. I understand discussion and disagreement on the internet as a form of social learning and development. Previously private conversations now play out on a grand scale online. Hello comment sections! Many times I learn more scanning through comments than I do from an article itself, despite some horrible things people say behind online anonymity.

Some of the forums hit on important questions, like “do healthy-living blogs encourage disordered eating and workout obsessions”? Um, yes. I would love to have that conversation!

Do fitness blogs encourage workout obsessions? {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} Do health blogs encourage disordered eating? {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}

Other comments raised concerns about whether specific bloggers are actually healthy. This isn’t really anyone’s business besides them and their doctor… but I’m willing to give a pass here with reservations. When you read a blog for a long time, you pick up trends. When a blogger starts to take a seemingly negative turn, regular readers notice. Is this worth discussion in a public forum? I’m not convinced, but it does raise some concern that a blogger with a lot of social influence could hurt readers in the process.

What made me hang my head in shame was the general bitching:

• “I hate how she writes with. so. many. periods.”
• “All she does is whine and complain, I can’t stand it.”
• “I’m so tired of reading how she’s the perfect Christian SAHM who gets to run every day.”

And the kickers that get a rise out of me so fast:

• “I never thought she had a great body anyway.”
• “She thinks she’s way better looking than she is.”
• “Why does she always wear pants like that? They make her legs look awful!”

EXCUSE ME??

….

There are no words. I’ve been staring that this screen for several minutes and still don’t have anything short of a full-out scream fest in response.

The worst part is these forums are often started and maintained by other health bloggers. People who [should] sure as hell know better. Who [should] understand how much those words really matter. It is pretty evident in the forums that many of the bloggers themselves keep tabs. So not only are we bashing and shaming these people, we’re doing it knowing they are likely to read it. And we’re announcing that its OK to belittle someone with such a lack of basic respect.

The solution is stunningly simple: you don’t like a blog anymore, don’t read it. The opinions you can keep to yourself – or at least behind the privacy of email with friends, not a public forum. Good gracious. If you can’t say something nice…?

My happy online corner of beautiful people accomplishing extraordinary things full of encouragement and support just had a dark shadow creep in. Pardon me while I go watch these adorable goats playing. And some JLaw funny moments. Maybe some Benedict Cumberbatch clips. I need to find a happy place again.

Your turn:
Are these forums valuable?
What serious conversations should fitness/health/lifestyle bloggers be having?
Am I simply overreacting?


Like what you read? Share with a friend!