“Virtual scars: Exploring the ethics of care on social media through interactions around self-injury”
Internet-focused research has analysed support- and information-seeking on the part of individuals with health conditions. This study reverses this habitual focus to explore practices of caring on social media. There is yet to be a comprehensive interrogation and theorising of the forms that care takes online, the ethical challenges it poses, or its potential relevance to clinical practice. Drawing on the anthropology of ethics, and cross-disciplinary analyses of care, this research attends to this lack through an online ethnography of self-injury.
Self-injury is common in the UK, particularly among adolescents. It is also the focus of myriad cyber-discussions, spaces and hashtags. This project follows hashtags through different social media sites. These act as pathways through the internet, linking different spaces by common themes. Through online ethnography we can observe how care is enacted on different sites, what forms it takes and the ethical complexities that it engenders. This research is funded by the Wellcome Trust.