& Why I Can’t Keep Quiet About This
As I write this I feel a host of emotions. Sadness, anger, frustration, annoyance, agitation. I’m incensed. Livd. I’m never normally one to lose my cool or to write such a strongly opinionated post that focuses on such a negative subject but I can’t help myself today. I’m upset. Exasperated. Perhaps I might calm down and not even post this but right now, I need to get it off my chest. The reason I’m feeling like this? The way people think they can bulldoze into someone else’s life and hurt their feelings. Cause distress to them. Bother them, offend them, traumatise them. Leave them feeling rock bottom.
It reminds me of being a teenager again. It was my first experience with a digital invasion, one protruding right into my own personal and private life. As a teen, I was young for my age. I never wore makeup. My parents were strict about me not being in the house on my own and I wasn’t as in tune with my emotions as many others were.
Blogs didn’t exist then. One online forum designed by someone at school did though. Kind of like a gossip site. On it sat appalling commentary of my first intimate (and what I thought was confidential) encounter with a boyfriend. It was written in sordid sour detail for everyone to see. Now I’m not talking about him playfully chasing me around a tree, flirting like in the Bollywood films. I’m talking tasteless, ridiculously embellished, lewd and salacious detail. Everyone read it. Being a teen, you already have a wealth of insecurities so can you imagine how it felt having the most trusted detail posted for everyone to see? To laugh at you. To giggle, sneer, shout sarcastic comments at you in class. It was callous and destructive and quite frankly I don’t know how I got over it. But I did.
At the time, having short hair made me a target for the usual tedious ‘are you a boy or a girl’ jokes too. I was either too studious or too dull. Too boring or too overt. These days I don’t consider myself abnormal or unlike your girl next door so for me, it’s easy to just pity the person responsible and brush it off. I’ve a strong character and just put it down to jealousy. I’m not saying I’m an angel but I make it my life motto to never treat others how I wouldn’t like to be treated myself.
Obviously I know that having a blog and pouring your heart out to strangers can provoke some people. Some who just can’t help themselves. That I get. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s up to them to get over their issues and if they need to use someone to channel their negative bitterness, if it’s you they’ve chosen, it’s essential to ignore it. But when people are awful enough to take it one step further, or I see it happening to others, that’s when it gets my back up.
Any type of bullying has both long-term and short-term affects. The consequences of bullying – and being a bully – are all too frequent in the media so my question is, why are people still allowed to get away with it? Cyberbullying can cause anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and is distressing for the family as well as the person involved. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that a whopping 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person. With 80% of people now using mobile phones, it’s now more prevalent than ever.
I loved Pandora Sykes snapback to someone who left a ludicrous comment regarding her choice of wedding dress. It was on Instagram. But then, why should Pandora have had to say it in the first place? It’s the most special day of her life and for the person commenting to think she doesn’t read her comments or would ignore the worst insult to something so significant is simple unintelligence.
Granted these types of commenters are usually a lot younger than you or I but what a dreadful representation of the youth of today. Prime target was lovely Lydia Elise Millen, another victim to a hate forum recently with the perpetrator threatening to leak her home address online. She even witnessed a car pull up at her house with photographs being taken of her home. I can’t imagine how it feels when the online world collides with the real world but I admire the grace in which she dealt with it. Seriously though, where are the police in all of this? Where are the social media filters or controls?
Time To Make A Change
For me it was naively always a given that everyone in the blogging world would be lovely. I wouldn’t dream of sending cryptic tweets, leaving insulting comments or treating someone online differently to how I’d treat them in person so why do people do it? But it happens. I’ve seen it, openly discussing others, belittling them, making fun of them. A hand crafted hate thread of nastiness, ridiculing him/her. Some turn to private messaging and multiple platform persecution. Bullies have immediate and easy access to people online and although a ‘block’ is at hand, it only goes some way to reducing the noise or impact. I hear of stories all the time about people who come out as gay and are hounded by people online. Stories of children killing themselves over cruel comments and their online reputation being spoiled.
I feel inclined to start some kind of group. Some kind of support unit for this type of thing. Now I’m not sure how, when or where to even start but I hope this post touches at least one heart and you feel willing to join me in the fight against online bullying Xx