Hijacked Hashtags

Diet And Fitness Is Ruining My Instagram Feed

If you’ve never used a hashtag, this might not be the blog post for you. But, if you spend time perusing Instagram or Twitter, you might want to keep reading. I’d love to hear your opinions on this one.

One of the first things I did when I started treatment for my eating disorder was to take a break from social media.

It was quite abrupt. Like turning off a light switch. One day in late May I was posting, pretending all was great in my world, and the next day I just stopped.

It was a decision that I made for my recovery. It was a great decision. And it was actually easier to make than the decision to come back to it. There were loads of things that I missed about being on social media daily, but the benefits were many for me since I struggle with comparison. My disorder loves it when I compare myself to other people, and we all know that social media is a petrie dish for that type of behaviour.

When I did return, I eased myself back in. The first thing I did was to pare down my friends list on Facebook. I left myself with only the people who I would be comfortable talking with in real life about my eating disorder. I wanted to make sure that I could feel free to post about whatever I felt I needed to, without any fear of getting asked questions that I felt uncomfortable answering.

Returning to Instagram was much less complicated. I simply started a new account and only followed people that supported eating disorder recovery and body positivity.

I was happy to see my feed on that account. It was filled with positive images and messages – it still is, actually.

While my time spent on Instagram scrolling through the wonderfully empowering and uplifting posts brought with it the messages and images that my healing brain needed, and the understanding that I’m not alone, it also brought a new source of frustration to my life.

Hashtag Hijackers.

I know some folks get annoyed with people using a lot of hashtags when they post. Don’t ask me how many is a lot – I couldn’t tell you. But for some people, there seems to be a limit to how many one post should have. I could care less how many hashtags there are on a post. I say, if you have a hashtag that fits your post, tag away baby.

The part that angers me, almost to the point where I would consider leaving Instagram altogether, is when people use a hashtag for evil instead of good.

Hashtags are a wonderful way for a person to find posts that are relevant to the content they are looking for on Instagram. They make life so easy! You can seamlessly hop from one topic to another and take in images, and their corresponding post content, that you might never have come across without the use of well-placed hashtags.

I followed a few hashtags such as #eatingdisorderrecovery and #bingeeatingdisorder on this new account to make it easier to find others in the world who struggle with challenges mine. I have so much to learn, and who better to learn it from that those who have been through it, right? What a wonderful tool these hashtags are!

But then, as I started using some of the more common hashtags on my own posts, I noticed something strange happening.

I started to get comments on my posts from business accounts. That in and of itself wasn’t so odd, but the nature of the businesses that were often commenting were precisely the kind of accounts that I had been trying so hard to avoid.

The more this happened, the more I began to put the pieces together. These bastards were purposely following specific hashtags so that they could comment on posts made with those hashtags in the hopes that they would then sell their products or services.

Take the hashtag #bingeeatingdisorder for example. I have had numerous weight loss coaches, personal trainers, and diet companies comment on posts that I make with that hashtag. I find that repulsive. The last thing I need in recovery from binge eating disorder is someone tempting me with another weight loss program. And, by the way, some stupid new diet that's being peddled on the internet has ZERO to do with binge eating disorder, except that it CAUSES the disorder in the first place!

It’s disgusting that these leeches are trying to capitalize off of illness. They’re trying to get noticed, in the hopes that an illness will encourage people to message them for more information on. They're hoping people will click on their bio link to go to their marketing site, so they can suck them back (or deeper) into their illness.

To make matters worse, I’ve also been noticing with more and more frequency, that companies like those are using specific hashtags, like #eatingdisorderrecovery, in their own posts. Posts that most certainly aren’t meant for education or support for eating disorder recovery.

There is just no way that a video of some stranger walking on a treadmill in her workout tights and sports bra while talking about her 90 Day Training and Meal Plan is in any way helpful to the eating disorder community.

What they are doing is wrong and it makes me furious. They’re preying on the mentally ill. It’s disgusting, and it would be wonderful if someone could make them stop.

Sadly, nobody can make them stop, so I am left with no choice but to unfollow the hashtags that have given me a wonderful way to connect to others like me. I have to go back to feeling a little more isolated and alone, these people in the diet industry are preying on individuals with a mental illness in an attempt to make a buck.

It’s frustrating as hell, but I know it will be worth it one day when I can say I’m fully recovered.