The article following may not be suited for certain readers/viewers. This article is contributing to the awareness of cyberbullying, mental health, and triggering comments looming the cyber world. Please visit http://www.mentalhealthhelpline.ca/ if you are in need to speak with someone and we encourage you to search a helpline in your area or be in touch with a medical professional. You are not alone.
One night, I found myself reminiscing my childhood memories, which I greatly miss. Little did I know this would take a different turn than expected. When the internet became a ‘thing’ my best friend and I used to love asking beauty questions online or reading celeb ‘how to’ articles. Yahoo Answers went live in 2005. This site was one of the few I most visited after MySpace and barbie.com of course. After going through a bunch of old photos and reading tweets on 90’s flashbacks I decided to take a keyboard airplane trip and visit the ‘old’ site.
I was firstname.lastname@example.org ( keeping anon)
The opening page was “All Categories’ to browse. There was a noticeable theme of people asking questions about mental health and needing answers to what might be ‘wrong with them’. The majority was not, “I feel the flu coming on” – it was more of ‘Wish I was dead” “ I am a 5’6 126-pound female wanting to lose 51 pounds’ ‘ Difference between OCD and stupidity?’ Every 2-3 questions it seemed to become heavier and I was left visualizing what a hotline trauma worker would feel like.
There were 13-16-year-old male and female stating their concern to “ If I eat this will it cause me to gain weight” or “ Should I take this 2012 bottle of prescription pills, I kinda wanna take em’ It became an outer body experience as my screen felt like an instant car crash. My compassionate fingertips were compelled to answer these people because every bone in my body couldn’t sleep knowing at least one of these people’s lives could have ended that night. We hashtag our love on social media and ‘classes’ teaching children in school the repercussions of bullying and continuing the conversation of mental health, yet we still have one person out there that asks ‘ What is borderline clinical depression” that is one too many. I saw this woman, in her late 30’s post a photo of herself asking if her makeup suits her. The answer section had comments such as “ you look like a transgender” or “I can see a Adam’s apple” I was one maybe out of 2 that said her eyeliner suited her eye color.
As time went by, I, unfortunately, was able to easily compile questions for this article. At the same time scrolling through, I noticed the same photo was on 2 different forums about the woman and her makeup earlier. She changed her question directly about her looks and if she was actually ‘pretty’ I was terrified knowing if one of those comments prior changed the way she looked at herself. My eyes were drawn to the exit button. My head was being filled with thought clouds and knew I was already knee-deep in guilt that she is online and looking for a stranger to compress possible BDD or depression.
Fitness & Health were not just gym junkies advising others on how to lift an extra 100 pounds at the gym. This gentleman asked if “ it was okay to intake 300-800 calories’ He didn’t include his body fat percentage, his age, and his height – all the measurements a proper trainer would take into account. All he wanted to know was how to drop his weight, and drop it now. No one should include eating gum as a ‘snack‘ It should be taken just as seriously as a young woman writing “Fear of Cancer, afraid of life”
You might have seen the same individual that wrote “There really is no such thing as a friend” out walking yesterday without you knowing. When they looked up, you decided to give that person an eye roll or not a friendly quick glance back because you were personally ‘not feeling it’. Yes, there are internet trolls, but there was just way too many that could even come close to a handful. My fingers could fall off answering 10-11-year-old girls questions about their menstrual cycle because they’re too afraid to speak to someone who is supposedly “close and care about them’. We are so focused on expressing our love on social media, which is great but sometimes the person that really needs help is right under your nose, offline. It’s the truth and reality. How do you feel if one of these questions was from your kid, brother, friend and family member and you have no idea?
Do I believe that Yahoo Answers should take away the mental health aspect of their site and monitor the questions? Yes and No. Websites should not be allowing users to give any sort of advice like this unless it’s a medical professional in confidence. Though, if we don’t – an individual that is too scared to speak to a professional or a helpline, this is their open window and even 1 positive comment could change that around.
People shouldn’t have to go to a site that is not meant to be dark. These are people, the world’s people and taking that extra 15 minutes out of your day to check in with someone shouldn’t be a reminder. But I get it, complaining about the man at the grocery store who bagged your bags wrong, is too important.
Here are just a few screenshots, I saw that I collected.