It's been over 24 hours since the disturbing hashtags #cutforbieber and #cuttingforbieber began trending on Twitter, and I still can't shake the feelings of dread, horror, and nausea that washed over me when I discovered them. The idea of young, impressionable teens mutilating themselves — not to mention posting pictures of their bloody results on the Internet — for whatever the reason, let alone to make an impression on a musical idol, is sick. It is terrifying, shocking, disgusting, sad — any number of words are appropriate to describe the trend. But one thing it most certainly is not is "funny." And yet, it all started as a joke.
We now know that the origin of the trend was a hoax started by the message board/Internet troll group 4chan. "Lets start a cut yourself for bier campaign," the message board reads. "Tweet a bunch of pics of people cutting themselves and claim we did it because Bieber was smoking weed." And, the coup de grace, "See if we can get some little girls to cut themselves."
Well, congratulations, 4chan, you did it. You are so f**king hilarious.
Not only did the phrase begin to trend on Twitter — at which time real photos undoubtedly joined the 4chan-created fake ones — but the story went viral in the media. If, somehow, a Belieber missed the countless tweets, they were sure to stumble upon the gut-wrenching photos while they perused Buzzfeed for the latest cat videos. Even Miley Cyrus weighed in on the topic, tweeting, "Cutting is NOT something to joke about. There are people who are actually suffering from self-harm, this is so disrespectful."
The only person, it seems, who has remained silent is Justin Bieber himself. Bieber, who has a penchant for tweeting cryptic inspirational messages every time his name appears in the headlines, has not tweeted a peep in regards to the #cutforbieber trend. And that raises the question, what is Bieber's role in all of this? Surely the 18-year-old singer isn't responsible for what his fans do, but should he have put a stop to things? Would a tweet from the Biebs have shut the whole thing down? But, even if it would have, who are we to heave that kind of pressure on the shoulders of such a young kid? It could be that Bieber, like the rest of us, was just hoping the whole thing would go away. That the girls would see the senselessness of their acts and put down the razor blades. That, as happened, the trending tweets would switch from graphic photographs to jokes about haircuts and cutting paper.
You're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. And if you're 4chan hoping to trick young girls to mutilating themselves, you're just damned.
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: Wenn]