This post is dedicated to anyone who has ever felt bullied, misunderstood or out of place. My heart breaks for those kids who have committed suicide because they were different and didn’t have the strength to say “This is who I am and I am okay with it.”
In my book, not very far. I have been kind of shocked with the recent wave of coverage in the news and even the gossip blogs (hey, I have to have downtime…). A few years back I was taking a grad class and my topic for my final paper had to do with bullying but it was a new kind of bullying.
So let’s get a bit uncomfortable for a few minutes and discuss. I don’t think I was bullied while in school. Made fun of, sure. Picked on because my outfit wasn’t the best and newest, more than likely. Were there days where I felt like no one liked me and I couldn’t do anything right? Yes and I feel like that from time to time now. But the difference between now and then? I am older, wiser (well, kind of) and I try to realize that as long as I am okay with me then it really isn’t that big of a deal.
I also had parents that instilled in me the ability to be okay with who I am. I also have the uncanny nature to change those things into something funny. I also tend to think that those who say horrible things about us must have something bothering them. So I try to let it go.
But the internet has created a new wave of bullying culture. We can hide behind our computer screens and say what we want without fear of backlash. We can say things that we would never be brave to say to someone standing right in front of us. And that is scary. Especially when most kids have computers and the parents might not take such a hard stance of watching what their kids are reading, writing or even posting.
I was an early adopter of Facebook and as it became more commonplace to use it as a way of communicating, people began to forget that anyone can see it. Friends, parents, employers, teachers. . .well unless you lock it down so tight that it makes it near impossible for people to find you in a search.
Take for example a post I saw recently, it basically was from a girl threatening another girl for talking to her man. It was filled with cuss words, threats and things that made me blush (and that is hard to do). Does this girl realize that this little episode she had on FB is there forever? Sure you can delete it but it can be cached in Google or the person being threatened can screen catch it and save it for a rainy day.
I would like to say that it doesn’t bother me when I realize that someone doesn’t like me or they make fun of me but it does. I know that in anger sometimes we all let it all out but in the world of the internet, that stuff stays forever. And you might have to answer to someone about that long after you had that little episode.
I have always been the nice girl with snark thrown in for good measure. I try not to say bad things about people but I am human and it is a work in progress. My friends always say that if you need something done, some help or just a shoulder to cry on, I am right there. They chide me for it from time to time because that has come to bite me in my butt when it comes to men but this is who I am. I like to help out, not for anything in return, I just like to help.
Maybe it is that deep-seeded desire for everyone to like me. Or maybe it is things that have been said to me in the past that cause me to go over the deep end in terms of being nice.
I had a teacher ask if I was poor one time for the outfit I wore to school one day. It was a pair of courderoy pants in bright pink and a bright blue top. As it happened, a neighbor had bought that for me as a gift. Those colors happened to be in at the time and while I cringe at the memory of the outfit, it was cool then. I don’t think I wore it after that though. I had a teacher whom I bumped into after college give me the pity look and say that it was sad that I was cooking for one. I have had a teacher trying her best to say that I had really blossomed in high school in terms of being outgoing, speaking my mind, etc. but the words came out sounding horrible. As in who would have thought you could become this outspoken young lady? And then two boys at camp, laughing about my inability to play tennis said something about my thunder thighs.
Those words were all spoken to me, not even written down, posted on the internet for the world to see and yet I still remember them. Had I been someone who shall we say wasn’t hard headed, I could have crumbled. The words stung, they are engraved in my brain but that hard head of mine still wants to prove to them and to others that I am a neat woman, full of thoughts, laughs and awkwardness.
As I and many of my friends have said, we are all so grateful that we didn’t grow up in this day and age. Our blunders, mistakes, snide comments and questionable photos are locked safely away in our closets. Our nights drinking at the fraternity house are blurry, distant memories. And some of those outfits have been sent to the dump only to show back up in department stores that make us cringe and then deny, deny, deny that we ever wore anything like that.
So where does bullying get you? Does it get you into Heaven quicker? Does it make you the most popular person in the class, office or bar? Does it make looking at yourself in the mirror easier?
I don’t have the answers to any of those questions. I can only say that we all need to think twice before speaking, be there for our friends and family and for those who have children, remind them that the internet may give them a mask but the damage done to the other person is just as bad, if not worse than throwing a punch at that person.
And yes, sometimes I feel a bit dirty and disgusted with myself after reading the gossip blogs. But I have found some great tidbits, items to ponder and a reminder that my life isn’t really all that bad.