Reading Reflection: Clay Shirky and pro-ana

In Here Comes Everybody Clay Shirky demonstrates the ways in which social media enables groups to form without social approval. This is an extremely pertinent text for a study of pro-ana, which sees girls whose eating disordered behaviours are rejected by society as dangerously unhealthy, finding identity and belonging in relationships with each other online. Pro-ana has a formidable online presence, with established blogs and forums alongside very specific manifestos and mission statements on what it is to be ‘ana’/’mia’ etc.

Some choice quotes

Something is different, it is easier for groups to form without social approval. 205

The enormous visibility and searchability of social life means that the ability for the like-minded to locate one another, and to assemble and cooperate with one another, now exists independently of social approval or disapproval. The gathering of Pro-Ana girls isn’t a side effect of our social tools, it’s an effect of those tools. 207

The logic of self help is affirmational- a small group bands together to defend its values against internal and external  challenges…. The basic mechanism of mutual support remains the same. 207

Work cited

Shirky, Clay. Here Comes Everybody : The Power of Organizing without Organizations. New York: Penguin Press, 2008. Print.

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