The internet is an fantastical, amazeballs playground. It’s also a melting pot, a global community and a place where so much good is done on the daily. But there is an undercurrent of awful. Of mean. Of hate. Read the comments on pretty much any forum, let alone the forums created especially for the haters, and you will find a trove of reprehensible statements, often with glaring spelling and grammatical errors.
Bullying is defined as aggressive, unwanted behaviors that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. In this case of internet, or social, bullying, it’s more about hurting someone’s reputation or relationships, spreading rumors or embarrassing someone in public.
A friend of mine was recently targeted by online bullies, some from those haters forums and some she had previously called her friends. It made me so angry and so sad. Why do we do this to each other? Because we’re angry, sad or unfulfilled and we want to make sure we’re not alone in those feelings?
The only recourse we have against bullying is ourselves. Be aware. Open your mouth. Don’t be afraid to let people know that you see their behavior and that it’s not acceptable. And if you’re a bully? Stop it. Now. Change the channel if something is filling you with rage. Click away without leaving that nasty comment. Do you really think an angry comment is going to change someone’s mind? And really sit down and think about what it would feel like to be the focus of the vitriol. Or think about what your child would feel like if someone were calling them stupid. Or worthless. Or a name like fag, slut or retard.
Let’s not pass this on, people. We’re capable of so much more. Take a cue from Ellen and be kind to one another.
If you or someone you know is being bullied, remember that you are important and worthy of better treatment. Talk to someone about it. Hell, you can talk to me about it if you want. You can find resources an Band Back Together and at the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.