Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A semi-retired exercise in a pro-anorexia web community

(some names and wordings have been changed and avatars removed to protect the anonymity of the already anonymous if that makes sense)

Kom Kunyosying

Forum handout: Using Blog Communities in Writing 121, 122, and 123

Last year I had my Writing 121 and 122 classes deduct the shared assumption(s) a blog's (web log’s) discourse community operates under, and then write a posting using those assumptions. I've had the most success applying this technique to a livejournal community called “proanorexia” because of how starkly that community's assumptions stand out.

To facilitate experiments such as with the proanorexia livejournal, I have "ethically ambiguous Thursdays," where every third Thursday we are only ethically and morally obligated to other members of our class and not to anyone else on the internet.

Defining Blogs:

The simplest and for now the most up-to-date definition of a blog, given in Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs is a website that is updated frequently. These websites can be devoted to one topic or reflect multiple interests. It is the blog’s form that characterizes it, not it’s function. Posts are time-stamped with the most recent post at the top.

Implementing an experiment with a blog community in the classroom:

What follows is an example of an initial posting and response series I might examine after allowing students to familiarize themselves with the livejournal proanorexia blog on their own:

Cast of Characters:

izdlasizcasi: a somewhat regular, though relatively new visitor to the blog who feels like she must have been very fat to have been able to have lost 20 pounds

czlre2010: a regular of the community posting a typical and supportive comment

regardzless001: a non-member of the community posting her response to izdlasizcasi’s post. She is abrasive and does not understand this discourse community. In the blog world, such posters are sometimes refered to as trolls.

fzingersadhere: a thoughtful regular to the community who responds genuinely to regardless001 in what is the beginning of a discussion in which regardless001 will eventually fail to relate to what the proanorexia blog community is about.

The excerpt from the proanorexia blog community starts with a post from izdlasizcasi:

izdlasizcasi ([info]izdlasizcasi) wrote in [info]proanorexia,
@ 2004-09-15 00:27:00

Previous Entry Add to memories! Next Entry

Current mood:

disgusted. frustrated

i weighed b in again tonight.

i don't know whether to be pleased or disgusted.

down 20lbs in 3 weeks.

god.... how DISGUSTING is that....

(Post a new comment)

2004-09-15 04:30 (link)

Hey i know this is weird but do u have an sn? screen name on msn yahoo or aim? and 20 lbs in 3 weeks i awesome!! keep up the good work

(Reply to this)

2004-09-15 04:43 (link)

When someone restricts food from one's body, it sometimes enters something called "a starvation mode". When this happens, the body actually stores even more fat, because, well, it needs to. Now you have a little mechanism in your brain that tells your body you need to eat. If you go on fasts to lose weight, 95% of the time, you would probably gain all your weight back, and even more, because the body is thinking "food, haven't had this in a while! just incase i have another fast, i need to store up on this!"... A lot of fat people put themselves on diets that end up making them fatter because of this... in fact, lots of overweight people are actually failed anorexics/bulimics...Your body has an equilibrium of sorts... If you try to push it one way, its only natural for it to push you the opposite way. The healthiest thing is to make lifestyle changes to get to your body's ideal weight/shape. Eat healthy foods (unprocessed, non-junk food), go biking, running, do sports....

I'm obviously not from this community. And I do believe that this is an uneducated, and harmful thing to have on the internet. I'm only speaking out of concern, and hope you learn to take care of your body properly, because its the only one you have and breaking it, restricting what it needs, will hurt you.
If you go beyond what your body can handle, you are not doing so out of self-love, you are punishing yourself. It's just like parenting, if you punish a child too much, he'll only become a) more badass, or b) suicidal and self-loathing...

The key to everything is moderation, and consistency.

(Reply to this) (Thread)

2004-09-15 05:18 (link)

Research eating disorders, it's pretty well known people with ED's are incredibly informed about their disorder, I also promise we know about starvation mode.

On top of that, after three days of "starvation" mode, the body goes into ketosis if done "right" and starts burning fat, and less muscle (admittedly the first three days it's eating muscle) yeah, You make valid points, but you're informing the educated, if you want to ask about metabolism, starvation mode, healthy dieting, unhealthy dieting, ED people are very well informed, We just have perceptions, choices, bodies, that don't work in the fashion that's "healthy" soooooo, feel free to educate, as long as you don't insult, but odds are you aren't telling anyone things they don't already know around here.

(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)

End of Excerpt 1.

Class activities at this point include:

Brainstorming in class about assumptions:

Regardless001’s possible enthymeme:

People who are hurting themselves must stop hurting themselves because it doesn’t make sense.


People can stop hurting themselves if they want to.

The Assumptions of the Blog community:

People who are hurting themselves need support. People who are hurting themselves should hurt themselves as little as possible if they can’t stop. People who are in that situation need a community where they are not attacked.

My students write there own post and see if they can do a better job than regardless001 at writing within the assumptions of the discourse community.

We respond to a comment by izm1disturbed1 and ask her to post it to the entire community for us. First is our post (which I have italicized in reprinting it) followed by her response. Admittedly our post is not perfectly healthy or safe, but my students realized it was not. The main goal was to see if we could outdo Regardzless001 in understanding the shared assumptions of the community. The ethics of our decision to post was still up for discussion in our class after we did so and generated considerable debate.:

Excerpt from proanorexia community begins again. The post (immediately below and in italics) was written and submitted by my class to a forum member who believed we were a real person and posted it for us and responded to us:

im1disturbed1 ([info]izm1disturbed1) wrote in [info]proanorexia,
@ 2004-03-18 21:01:00

Previous Entry Add to memories! Next Entry

Current mood:


Exercising more?
hey girls, I’ve been trying something different but it’s making me feel really fat. I’ve been having a really hard time restricting and I don’t want to go to mia. So I’m actually taking in 1000 calories a day and exercising more. I run every morning for one hour, not too fast but until my pedometer says 400 calroies and am on the field hockey team. I’ve actually been able to go down in weight, but really slowly – like half a pound a week. I don’t feel as in control as when I was restricting. But it was really hard. I almost went to mia because I couldn’t restrict. Do I even belong here? Do you think I’m a complete wuss and pig? I have to say it feels so good to eat a kind of normal breakfast after my run.

(Post a new comment)

(Screened Post)

to the the unknown person
2004-03-18 20:16 (link)

sweet, i luv breakfast, and alwayz feel full thru the whole day when i eat it....maybe ill try that, eating more 4 breakfast and then restricting 2 water 4 the rest of the day. after im done my fast, thats the new plan

Becasue of ur hardcore working out you really do need some food... ummm... I don't know what else to tell ya cuz I'm mostly a newbie too... e-mail if you want if you have questions I can't answer I'll just forward them to ppl I know that can! Hoped this helped a lil! Good luck and much love! (Yes this is the right community for u I think)

(Reply to this) (Parent)

End of second excerpt.

Kom Kunyosying


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