Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bullying Online and a Love Story

This lovely young lady is Joseph's girl friend. They have a long distance relationship and she is singing this song to  him. Naturally, this makes me all misty-eyed. I'm a mom. That's what I do.

Joseph shared this video on Facebook. He's a boyfriend. This is what he does.

Someone else shared it too. On a hate site. In case you don't know what this is, there really are people out there who post links to videos just so people who are of a similar mindset can post nasty comments to them. This is called trolling. It's what bullies do.

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes, but I think online bullying is probably the most insidious because there's no one to stand up to. The anonymity of the internet lends itself well to this. Like being hit in the back of the head by a total stranger who's gone by the time you've gotten to your feet.

And if you're about to argue that it's just words, let me stop you right there. There's no such thing as "just words". The whole "sticks and stones" saying our parents used to chant to us as children was a well-meant, but unhelpful myth. Did it ever make you feel better when someone said it to you? Did those hurtful things people said to you suddenly stop wounding you? Did you miraculously become a stronger person? Me either. And the truth is, this online bullying thing is at least as dangerous as the bigger kid who use to push us down on the playground, if not more so..

You know my stand on this. I've said it here before. Words are powerful things and those of us with the ability to use them have to think of them as our super powers. We can change the world with them, leap tall buildings in a single bound, heal hurts, drive away demons. Or we can use them to do despicable things that have the power to do permanent damage. We need to teach this to our children and remind one another to stand up for the weak--even online. I don't mean that you have to start responding to every rotten thing every one ever says to every single stranger, but when comes across your radar--pause for a second and let the target know they're not alone. Be the light.

It would be one thing if the comments were constructive (and I have no problem with an honest assessment of how someone did something) and helped her to be a better singer, but 99% of them are simply mean and their primary goal is to wound her because they can.

Our young lady has a choice. She can take down her video, or disable comments. But why let the jerks in the world dictate how open you are? And why let them take over the internet? So I'm asking my readers (hello readers) to swing by and say something nice. It doesn't have to be much--just let her know that there are more nice people in the world than jerks. Think of it as not only lifting her up, but a blow for all the bullies who pushed you around when you were a kid, just because they could.


Scotty said...

Already done, Mary - like I said, they're online cowards who hide behind the anonymity of the internet.

Mary O. Paddock said...

I saw that. Thank you Scotty. It's greatly appreciated. And you made Joe laugh which helped to diffuse the tension. I'm starting to think there's something to that red headed hot temper.

Debby said...

I can't comment. I don't understand why and am too tired to screw with it right now, but it makes me sick the sort of small minded stuff people post on these sites. Really, as if it makes a difference to them one way or the other that this girl is singing a song to her boyfriend

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

We have had an online bully who posted stuff about us by our proper name. The police on several occasions told us he has free speech and if we don't like it we don't have to read it.


It was very hard to see and deal with (esp. veiled threats, and you saw this guy's dad on my fb I think). It has to be so much harder when you're barely an adult and your self-image is so fragile. I hope she knows this is NOT what most people think about her... some of the comments stopped my heart. :(

Hal Johnson said...

I really think that most of the guys who engage in online bullying just can't make peace with having little bitty wieners, so they take it out on any target they can find.

Mary O. Paddock said...

Many, many thanks everyone. You really made this young lady's day (not mine--hers :) ).