Bieber Twitter Trend Disturbing

Colleen OBrien, Lifestyle Editor

The latest in the long list of horrific happenings in the cyber world, the hashtag #cuttingforbieber trend on Twitter made headlines for encouraging self-harm in protest of pop star Justin Bieber’s alleged marijuana use.

The trend surfaced on January 7, shortly after pictures implying Bieber had smoked marijuana at a party appeared on the web. A user of the popular website 4Chan started the trend, encouraging Bieber’s fans to cut their wrists in protest of Bieber’s marijuana use. The hashtag “cuttingforbieber” was soon trending on Twitter, accompanied by horrifying pictures of bloody, slit wrists.

The trend, along with the pictures, was later proved to be a hoax, but not before a storm of controversy and righteous disgust swept cyberspace. While most users condemned the trend, several others responded with rude comments poking fun at people who cut themselves.

These insensitive comments then sparked a new round of controversy, and gained the attention of stars such as Miley Cyrus. “Cutting is NOT something to joke about,” Cyrus posted on Twitter. “There are people who are actually suffering from self-harm, this is so disrespectful.”

Others, including myself, echoed Cyrus’ opinion, as the hashtag #SelfHarmIsNotAJoke was soon trending as well.

Many Campo students also found the cutting trend offensive. Freshman Anya Kossakowski, for example, agreed with Cyrus that cutting is not a subject of which to make light. “I think that if I was someone who cut, I would get my feelings hurt. They were making funny pictures of it when it’s actually a serious thing. There were people with ketchup on their arms and a plastic knife; people with serious issues might not think that’s funny,” Kossakowski said.

Senior Sophie Seiberth also saw the trend as “insensitive,” saying that the idea of cutting oneself for such a trite reason as a celebrity smoking marijuana downplays the seriousness of self-harm. “The harm that they do to themselves is being made into not a big a deal,” Seiberth said.

Cyrus is correct in condemning those who make light of such a serious problem among today’s teenagers. estimates that in the US, 1 in every 200 girls aged 13-19 cuts herself regularly. That’s a full half a percent of the US teen girl population. The numbers are not quite as high for teenage boys, but are still disconcerting. These statistics are as alarming as they are heartbreaking, and the rates are on the rise.

Self-harm, especially cutting, is nothing to joke about. It is a serious problem and one that requires professional help, not ridicule. To make a prank out of the act of cutting is beyond disrespectful; it is unfathomably sick and shows an astonishing lack of sensitivity and empathy for those in extreme emotional pain.

According to the Huffington Post, Cornell University professor Janis Whitlock, who studies teens and self-injury, said that images of cutting can serve as potential triggers for those who are already vulnerable or prone to self-injury. While she doesn’t think the hashtag will create a fresh wave of self-harmers, it does reinforce the idea of self-injury as a method of expression.

The person who initiated this trend has some serious issues to work through, from drastic attention-seeking to callous cold-heartedness. As senior Ryan Gannett said, “he should probably reflect how he’s affected so many young girls’ lives.”

If it were up to me, Twitter and 4 Chan would track down the person behind this trend, get him (or her) some serious counseling, and hold him accountable for the emotional damage inflicted upon those whose burden is already heavy enough.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with self-harm, a 24-hour hotline is available at 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288).