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IFLScience Creator Uses Twitter to Discuss Professional and Personal Revelations

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If you haven't heard of IFLS, it's probably because you know it by its proper name, which I can't actually repeat here, the nearest I can get is 'I F***ing Love Science', but yeah, that. It's an immensely popular page with an incredibly talented social media promotion arm. At present their Facebook page has over 22 million likes and their Twitter boasts 175,000 followers. For various reasons, many actual scientists loathe the site, but they are heavily outranked by the people who adore it. In either case, it gets people talking.

It started out in life as meagre Facebook page, run by Elise Andrew, a former biology student who used it to post various weird and wonderful science facts. It proved so popular that it quickly blossomed into a full blog and the rest, as they don't say, is chemistry. Specifically, explosive polymerization (something I learned about on the site itself). It blew up, practically overnight.

Presumably partially due to all the criticism Andrew has fielded since then for article inaccuracy, copyright infringement, unfounded claims and clickbaiting, she has become a very private person, almost never appearing in interviews and remaining fairly reserved on her own, public social media pages.
That all changed on Saturday. Spurred on by World Mental Health Day and an apparently abusive Facebook comment, Andrew took to Twitter to detail her own struggle with mental illness, as well as revealing that she was once offered a very large sum of money for IFLS. She explained that throughout her life she has been repeatedly diagnosed and rediagnosed with various mental illnesses, ranging from depression to borderline personality disorder. Seemingly, the most accurate diagnosis was trichotillomania, a disorder which makes people compulsively pull their hair out.
The bulk of the tweets broached this topic, and the ways in which doing a job as social media dependant as hers creates a real risk of mental health issues intensifying, given the constant personal attacks she has to deal with. She was also speaking in support of other mental illness sufferers in a bid to help them understand that they aren't alone. This is what brought her around to the money. In a brief aside, she stated that she was offered $30 million for the site, and although she turned it down, the most enticing part of the offer was the idea of being free to relinquish dependency on social media for good.

Sadly, that's the part of the story that gained the most pronounced media attention, prompting Andrew to start posting once again on Monday, explaining in more detail that she turned the offer down because she simply did not want to give up running the site, and the opportunities to 'travel the world' and 'meet awesome people'. She bookended this second string of tweets with a very significant point - retiring with millions in the bank at age 26, already contending with mental health issues is a very, very dangerous thing to do.

What ever you might think about Andrew, and her site, it's a real shame that the money became the main focal point of this story, when she was clearly making a very personal and very heartfelt effort to raise awareness about mental health. Talking about issues so close to home on a forum that leaves you wide open to personal abuse is far from easy, and personally I commend her for having the balls to do it. Hopefully her message made it through to the people who needed to hear it, and I have no doubt that she will continue to dedicate time and energy to raising awareness about mental health and aiding the community.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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IFLScience Creator Uses Twitter to Discuss Professional and Personal Revelations Reviewed by Callum Davies on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 Rating: 5

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