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mercredi, novembre 07, 2007

 Explorations in identity

I started out in ff not with Harry Potter, as some might conjecture, but in the Gilmore Girls and Star Wars arena. During this heady time of community exploration, I met and made quite a number of like-minded friends, and I really enjoyed their emails and MSN banter.

It was during this time that I met a girl, R, who wrote some really nice fics, and who left me really nice messages as well. We were in the same fandom and shipped the same ship, so we clicked when we started emailing each other. The usual things happened - over a period of a year or so, I told her about my life and she told me about hers; she claimed to have a hard life, in her late teens, thrown out by her parents for having a baby out of wedlock etc.

I listened to and really sympathised with her situation, and for Christmas 2005, sent her (through R's university or workplace, I can't remember which) a care package for her kid through a friend who was going to America to study in JHU. After the package was sent, I emailed her to ask if she received it. She didn't reply. Over the next month or so, I wrote her email, but I never heard from her again. I even apologised for any perceived slight that she might have felt from anything I'd said, or if the care package freaked her out. (The package was neither expensive nor freaky - it was a kid's size cookie monster t-shirt and a handwritten card from me.)

I was initially worried that something had happened to her (she said she lived alone with her kid), but as the time went on without a reply email from her, I figured that for whatever reason, perhaps she didn't want to talk to me again. I did toy with the idea of calling Yale up to check if she was alright, but it didn't feel right, so I left the issue alone unresolved.

I was doing some housecleaning for my inbox the other day, and stumbled on some old correspondence. I decided to try to "find" her again online - you know, check if she updated her ff.net profile with a new LJ address, or updated her email so that I could email her - we never exchanged telephone numbers or anything exact like full names, so please don't misunderstand this as me exhibiting stalker-tendencies.

Using some new info that she had posted on her profile (public-domain; I didn't need to login to see it so it's not f-locked or anything similar), I googled and managed to find some references to her. I'm really sad to say this, but the evidence seems to point to the fact that she lied through her teeth about everything, which in-and-of-itself isn't really that bad; I'm a veteran online (been on a computer since 1988, and been online since 1994) so I'm used to people (especially teenagers) exploring different facets of their identity online.

What made me really sad is that she's a pro-ana girl, and she seems like a very vocal advocate for it. For those of you unsure about what this is, it's the name for the general online support community for anorexics and bulemic sufferers. People with eating disorders often find their "lifestyle" rejected by the people around them, and pro-ana sites (such as anagurls or anagurls or anagirls or anaschildren or proana) offer a sanctuary for people (most often girls) who need "help" with their goal (i.e. to lose weight). This help, also known as "thinspiration", comes in the usual interpersonal communicative forms, like supportive comments or IMs or emails etc. In addition to that, many sites also feature photo galleries where people post up photographs of their thin idols - Nicole Richie, Kate Moss and the Olsen Twins are often featured.

I don't want to bust her chops about this; I'm not naive enough to believe that everyone has to have a stable identity to come online and interact ('on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog', someone once wisely noted). However, now that I know that she's pro-ana, and that her last post (from as far as I can tell anyway) was sometime in very late 2005, I'm hoping that nothing has happened to her, health-wise.

[Explorations in identity]
Sngs Alumni @ 7.11.07 { 0 comments }


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