I was up waaaaaaaaaay to late last night as usual. Insomnia is nothing if not faithful, coming to visit me every night.
While I was up cruising the internet I stumbled across an old friend of mine being bullied. Now I know you are probably thinking “What is she 12? She just said bullied.” But yes, you heard me right. Bullied.
This got me to thinking about my friend, and that I know from experience how hurtful this can be. I myself have been victim of cyber bullying. It is devastating to log onto the internet to find hateful and horrible things being said about you behind a screen name. The internet is supposed to be for entertainment, work, education, fun.
I remember the days that you could see your bullies face, know who the hurtful words came from and make the choice to walk away or fight back. Most times only you and a few other people, or maybe just your neighborhood knew this. We now live in a time where your bully sits behind a computer, types up his phrases behind a made up screen name and then hits enter. FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE!
This is what kids today deal with, but it is also what adults deal with.
Now I’m not trying to take away from the horrible injustice of Teen Cyber Bullying. It breaks my heart to hear about this and what it usually results in.
But I think we should also talk about when it happens to adults.I don’t like the term bullying anymore than you do. What adult in their right mind would walk up to their friends and say, “I’m being cyber bullied. Call it what you will: slander, gossip, bullying, etc. It’s all the same. There is a victim and an attacker.
Nowadays in the world of creating a persona online and saying what you want in the privacy of your own home we don’t even have the ability to confront our attackers. And in the age of technology I have seen first hand that as adults more often than not the attacker is a friend or a coworker.
Now I’m not saying we all haven’t gossiped or said hateful words, but let’s think about this for a second. What goes on the internet stays on the internet. It is like Las Vegas, everything stays there. Once the words have been said, the damage is done. Apologies and hitting the Delete button does not take away the hurt, the pain, the shame. So you know something about someone, so what if she stole your boyfriend in high school, so what if he passed you up for a promotion? THINK before you speak. EVERYONE in the world can see what you have said. What if this person’s kids logged on and saw that their mother was being called a wh** or that their father is being called a deadbeat? What if the person’s mother saw this? People lose friends over gossip and slander. People tend to believe what they read. So you have more than likely just ruined a person’s reputation and this will follow them everywhere they go because the internet is accessible by anyone that has access to a computer or phone.
Are you thinking, “I’ve never started such a thing! I’d never start rumors or gossip!” But have you spread the rumor/gossip? By telling even ONE person what you have heard or read you are spreading the gossip and in turn have helped the attacker accomplish their task. To tear the person down.
Why not break the cycle by saying, “I can’t have this conversation.” or “Check you facts before you spread rumors.” and walking away.
ANYONE can fall victim to rumors, gossip, slander, bullying. Why not focus our energy on spreading words of love and hate. Maybe the gossip is true, maybe it’s not. Whether it is or not maybe by spreading words of love you are breaking the cycle and uplifting the victim who may need to know that they should not feel shame or hurt at what is being said. Sometimes one act of kindness, one word of love and compassion can change the course of a life.
Why should these acts of kindness be reserved for people we know? Why are strangers not worthy of this? Why do we watch our friends, our neighbors and our families be ripped apart by words online while we sit behind our own screen and close the page. Never saying a word.
It is as simple as this:
- Don’t start it.
- Don’t spread it.
- Report it.
- Support the victim.
Though bullies tend to be online now and not the physical fights over milk money and lunch that we all remember. I will continue to teach my kids that bullying, gossip and hateful words and actions are wrong.
I will continue to teach my kids:
“Don’t start the fight, but finish it!”
Stop the bullying!