Opinions and discussion are great, judgement and nastiness are not. Let’s take a stand. Enough is enough.
Today marks the start of the #banishthebully movement. A positive step to make the online space one for healthy debate and discussion not for judgement, meanness or intolerance. Please join in and share using the hashtag #banishthebully whenever you see bullying take place or want to share your story.
Here is another blogger’s perspective on online insults and bullying – #banishthebully
I had another ‘rite of passage’ as a ‘blogger’ a couple of weeks back – my first REALLY negative comment. I am deliberately not using the t-word, but it is sorely tempting.
I have to admit I was actually quite upset about it, despite being exposed to this on websites and social media regularly, it was not something I had prepared myself for, particularly in relation to my rather innocuous content.
In hindsight this was obviously naive, particularly as I have heard many people say that the one thing they could not believe when starting their own site/Facebook page was the hostility/rudeness of some people.
Nevertheless, it threw me a bit, partly because it was quite personal, but also because the strength of it seemed unwarranted for the post I wrote. And the fact that it did throw me a bit, threw me a bit too, if that makes any sense. Here I am a relatively stable, 39ish year old woman with 2 children, husband and seemingly the whole kit and caboodle and I got a bit upset. Now I am obviously not fishing for sympathy here, I know when you put yourself out there you are open season for people to say whatever they like But what about the thousands of children and teenagers who don’t, and get abuse and tirades or worse based on little or no reason, often with no-one knowing what they are going through.
You may be keen to read the post so here it is the link (I have deliberately removed the name):
Now, had it been constructive criticism then that would be a different matter, that I would value. If it was something we could discuss or deliberate on, great. However, it was not. It has made me think about a number of things which I have subconsciously been mulling around in my mind for some time:
1. Would people that criticise in this way, say these things to author’s faces if it was a public situation?
Obviously I don’t know the answer to this question, but somehow I doubt it.
Therefore, I struggle with why some people can feel they can behave like this on-line, like it is really a ‘second life’. I know we can all be a bit more brazen and open on-line, myself included. Maybe many of us do become or are becoming alter egos or caricatures of ourselves in this semi-anonymous space. Is on-line an outlet for what we feel we can do in the ‘real world’? Do we think somehow we are untouchable?
2. The reality of on-line ‘bullying’
Much has been said about on-line bullying particularly with teenagers. but this appears to be happening across the age groups and all too often with little recourse (and before you ask I don’t really count what happened to me as ‘on-line bullying’ as such!).
Yes, on-line you may get the odd person who comes out will defend a comment/article/whatever and an on-line slanging match may ensue. But for the younger age groups this criticism or bullying is often done directly to the individual, away from our and others’ view. It is hidden except to those that are the bullies or the bullied.
What is most concerning is the real affect that this can have on young people’s lives who are often at their most vulnerable age and when peer approval is seemingly so all-important. It is hardly surprising that teen depression, suicides and attempted suicides are on the rise.
This is a reality we have to prepare ourselves for, but how can we ensure our children don’t do the same to others and we are aware of it if it does happen to them?
3. Resilience – how do we teach it?
Yes, everyone gets some negative feedback at some point in life, whether at school, work, from a friend or girl/boyfriend. Resilience is something that is talked a lot about by education professionals (these days), but how can us parents help instil this in their children so they can really believe ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me’. If this ‘avatar thinking’ is going to continue it is likely that resilience is going to be even more important unless we all hide ourselves away in a cupboard.
What can schools and parents do to build this lifeskill? How can we develop resilience in ourselves (after all, it was never something discussed until recent times).
Of course, our online personas are not really a true reflection ourselves, they are one dimensional snap shots of us at a period in time , but this is something we need to bear in mind before we type. Many an email, text, comment has been misconstrued, we’ve all been there. But maybe it is time we thought a bit more about what we write and how it may be perceived by others before we press enter. Treating people as we want to be treated. Realising that the whole world can see our words, which can be a lot more damaging than a few drunken photos on Facebook.
And yes, I think we need to think about ourselves as whole people – merging the on-line version with the same as the ‘real’ one.
Hoping that we can all be true to ourselves, have healthy and energetic discussions and debates, respect others’ opinions and feel free to share, but also #banishthebully
See also Alli Grant’s article here about mean girls and #banishthebully:
Some useful links:
Warning signs your child is being bullied:http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Warning_Signs_that_Your_Child/
Facebook group ‘Say no to bullying’: https://www.facebook.com/saynotobullying
Building resilience in kids: http://www.parentingideas.com.au/Parents/Resilience
Resilience and each age group: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resilience.aspx