Once self-injurers ventured into the postmodern world of cyberspace, they found an arena that mirrored their solid world in many ways but had more ephemeral features. In this chapter we examine the characteristics of self-injury cyber communities and the people who inhabited them. Participation in social communities such as these can be very beneficial, offering individuals who join them multiple resources. They give members increased value, or social capital, by enhancing their social networks, offering social norms that govern how members interact, and providing sanctions that ensure members adhere to these norms. It took a while for the self-injurers in our study to learn the characteristics, norms, and values of the different communities they found. As they did so, they created a cyber persona, or possibly multiple personae, for themselves. They then had to navigate their existence in the numerous realities of these new cyber realms.
The population that frequented different cyber self-injury sites varied, but there were certain common types of participants and posting styles that emerged across these sites. Four of them appeared most repeatedly.
Many people took the role of drama kings and queens. They vented or cried for help in an emotional manner, sometimes spewing out stream-of-consciousness ramblings. They worried and reacted harshly to small things. They repeatedly presented their life occurrences and agonized over them. Wendy, a 24-year-old graduate student who cut and burned herself when she did not achieve the perfection she sought, described the irritation she felt toward people who seemed desperate for attention, noting that they just “said the same things over and over and over but never really did anything proactive