Trolls are typically the most obnoxious part of the Internet (well, apart from those glitter GIF graphics people used to put on their MySpace profiles). They exist to anger and shock people into reacting — i.e. The Point — and leave few holds barred in order to do so. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to feel extremely disturbed when the hoax involves supposed preteens cutting themselves over photos of Justin Bieber smoking pot.
In the event you haven’t used the Internet in the last twelve hours, some photos of Bieber have surfaced in which he appears to be smoking pot the day after a paparazzo was killed while attempting to prove that very theory. Apparently, this sparked some trolls’ minds into motion and they decided to make a sinister hoax out of it by tweeting self-harm images — many of which appear real, though I won’t post them here since they’re pretty gruesome — accompanied by the hashtag “#cut4bieber” as well as requests for him to stop using weed. They’ve also created fake memorials and implied that people are dead because of the pot photos upsetting them so much.
As a result, multiple celebrities and numerous Twitter users have rushed to criticize those exacerbating the trend, as well as make fun of them. Miley Cyrus tweeted, “#cut4bieber? Cutting is NOT something to joke about. There are people who are actually suffering from self-harm, this is so disrespectful.” Others, had more amused takes on the prank (though it’s uncertain if they knew it was a prank yet, since some apparently took it seriously).
I think one of the most unsettling things about this is that some of the photos appear real. While they may have been taken from pro-self-injury websites (of which there are many, sadly), they still exist and people are still utilizing them for a rather distressing purpose. Plus, as much as I hate to side with a Cyrus, it really isn’t something to joke about (though by definition, I think that’s the goal of a troll) and it is very disrespectful. Plenty of folks have referred to those involved — prior to the realization that they’re trolls — as “attention whores” or “fakes” for cutting themselves, a title I find somewhat bizarre because I’m pretty sure that if you feel the need to get attention by physically injuring yourself, you’ve absolutely got real issues.
I know quite a bit about that type of behavior, as I’ve mentioned previously, and I also have known numerous people who did similar things to themselves — some out of anger, some out of depression, some out of a sincere desire to “fix” themselves — but not one of them was doing it because they wanted some sort of flattery or for everyone to look at them or whatever else people imagine that type of regrettable activity is for. I semi-recently mentored a young woman whose life was spinning out of control after significant abuse within her family and, though many people automatically assumed her bizarre behavior was done merely for attention, in reality, it was because she just didn’t understand how to react to things normally anymore. So all in all, this whole “cutting is hilarious” thing is irksome, at best, and at worst, could be triggering to those kids who are actually afflicted with NSSI as a disorder.
Regardless of whether any of the photos were real or if they’re all fake, it’s still on the more horrible end of trolling pranks. Hopefully this is the last of 2013 that involves kids harming themselves (c’mon, Internet, you need a New Year’s resolution, too).