When I was in junior high a group of classmates and their older sisters decided I wasn’t cool enough to be in their orbit. It might have had to do with the fact that a guy my classmate liked, ended up liking me instead. But whatever the reason, they took it upon themselves to torture me in small nearly inconspicuous ways that I saw but teachers missed. It hurt, but I didn’t say anything to anyone and eventually they stopped. But today’s bullies aren’t just slipping notes in class or taunting in the cafeteria. They are taking to the internet and they are brutal.
One of the big social media news stories of 2012 was about a girl who took her own life after being bullied in persona and relentlessly online. She posted a YouTube video about her inner turmoil, explaining the whole story, and then a week later she committed suicide. On Facebook and YouTube she was abused. People told her to drink bleach, that the world would be better off without her, that she was a failure at life.
A lot of the comments were things those people would not have been bold enough to say in person, but behind the anonymity that a computer screen provides, they felt at ease and more than justified by their words.
The old adage, ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me” just isn’t true. When people say something rude to our face or use the cowards way and post online, it stings. Our confidence shatters, our self-love takes a nosedive and we begin to question our worth. Maybe we are all the horrible things people are saying online. Maybe life really is that bad.
And online bullying isn’t something reserved to immature high school students. Just take a look at the number of celebrity blogs that exist purely to point out the errors and problems of public figures. They draw on their pictures and say horrible things about the person and their character.
As a blogger, I too get my share of hate comments. Those people bold enough to leave a blog comment using a fake email address and the courageous name of Anonymous have told me everything from I’ve obviously never looked in a mirror to I should never get on the internet again. Each and every time it happens, I’m shocked by the disdain and for a brief moment I doubt what I’m doing. Then I remind myself that some people are going to hate no matter what you do, we’re not made to be liked by everyone. And that’s more than ok.