WARNING: You may find some of the language and messages contained in the images in this blog vulgar, offensive, crude or distressing. There are words that I myself would never ever in a million years write on any media platform. However I have included them here so that you can see the language and offensive intimidation that some people are exposed to online on a daily basis. These are all images of legitimate messages sent to me in the last 2-3 weeks.
I don’t usually get anywhere near this many hate messages usually, in fact getting any at all is pretty unusual. But this time hateful messages seem to be coming from just the one sad and angry person in spurts. I never respond to bullying, and I am not going to respond to these either. I am only including them so you have authentic examples of the range of both subtle and crass intimidation that our peers are sending ... and receiving. It would be ok with me if you want to get your parents or teachers to read this blog, if it means you can get them to understand what a horrible degrading and demeaning barrage you or other kids are being exposed to. Too often communications, like these messages, cause significant emotional damage really quickly and it can leave hidden psychological scars. We lose far too many young people to the traumatic consequences of trying to live through bullying – even just one is too many as far as I am concerned.
And I hate to say it … but there are far too many of us also writing mean things … not necessarily this extreme … but things which can offend and hurt. We all need to be more mindful of the effect our words, especially in the sphere of social media, can have on others.
I got bullied at school and I have also been and obviously still get bullied online. The "hate" I get on social networking is pretty rare now but could at times be so disgusting and degrading in nature – mostly because on some mediums you can say things anonymously. The difference for me now is there is so very little of it that really hurts me. Actually, the worst thing for me is that each time I get hate, it still shocks me how horrible people can be and the lengths they will go to. I like to see the positive in the world, and I wish others could too, so they wouldn’t feel the need to bring others down. I feel so sorry that there are some people out there that must be living with some horrific demons and self-hatred within themselves … but I also recognise that innocent vulnerable people become victims at the hands of these bullies. There are definitely no winners when it comes to bullying.
But why is cyberspace and social media such a problem ? It may not actually be that more people are being rude or mean on there necessarily. Sometimes it can be that the message can come across the wrong way as it is only sort of one dimensional online. We have grown up using body language and other subtleties of expressed language to get the meaning and understanding of what is being said to us. All that means is that we rely a lot on HOW someone sounds when they say something and the LOOK on their face to understand the intent or purpose behind the message. It‘s how we can pick up sarcasm, anger, humour etc. We can't get that from a typed message.
So when something is written, and written in a brief, abbreviated or colloquial manner there is such a big chance that the message will be miscommunicated and/or misinterpreted. Recipe for disaster and fights between friends. So just be aware.
However there are certainly significant bullies in cyberspace, just as there are in the school playground. And boy can they be mean ! So here it is …
Unfortunately though, while teachers, scientists, doctors, psychologists, police and parents are collectively very clever, and extremely focused on finding a solution to cyber-bullying, no one has been able to find any one solution or strategy to effectively eradicate it. Certainly no "one size fits all" solution to help the victims get through the tough times. I don't have the answers either! But if you want to look at some of the strategies I tried when I was younger, have a look at some of the info on bullying in the SMYLE section of this website :)
One thing that I definitely agree with the experts on,
is that we need to start talking about bullying.
It needs to be a topic that is out there, generating discussion,
and in that way generate a change in the culture that enables bullying.
So please if you, or a friend, are being bullied online and it is getting to you, tell someone about it, a parent, friend, teacher, older brother or sister. There are also phone lines you can call for some confidential support…
Beyond Blue 1300 22463,
Kids HelpLine 1800 55 1800.
ChildLine 0800 1111,
Mind Info Line 0845 766 0163,
The Samaritans 0845 7909090.
In the USA
SAFE on 800 366 8288.
There are also some other resources on SMYLE>Resources ( http://www.sjana.com.au/#!useful-resources/c143x )
PS. For anyone that is interested, there was an article published with Facebook's view on cyber bullying and the tools they are putting in place to combat it.
Love and light,