I believe everyone is multi-faceted. I also believe strongly in citizens being able to express themselves over projects in their communities, or even outside their communities. And for every type of individual human being is, there are just as many differing opinions.
Recently, and elsewhere, I commented on two different things happening on the Main Line, a place until a few months ago which I called home for over 30 years.
I could take a lot of time and mention the who what where of it all, but that at the end of the day is somewhat immaterial. What is important is with one of these issues, people with opinions contrary to mine have basically been practicing cyberbullying at my expense for the past couple of days.
It wasn’t enough that they disagreed with me, they felt they had to literally attempt to completely verbally shred me in addition to disagreeing with me.
First it was that I no longer lived on the Main Line, ergo, I could not comment. Then it mushroomed into I was this horrible person with nothing of value to add to society. Only more mean. Basically, they used a heated community discussion to flex their muscles from a bully pulpit.
I have always defended the right of someone to post under a pen name, versus their own name. Like stating your opinion publicly, it is a fine American tradition. However, what it has become is a way for certain people, cowards and bullies, to hide. I don’t think that is right. Maybe it is a face your accusers thing. Maybe it is that as an adult you realize bullies come in all ages, shapes, and varieties.
Being a seasoned blogger I am mostly used to people having a lot to say about that. Having experience in community activism, I am also used to the pitfalls of giving back to your community.
A lot of the time, I ignore this stuff. Today, I am not. The reason I am not, is I am not only entitled to a difference of opinion as we live in a free country, but also because if you are not a strong person, or are young and not emotionally equipped to handle this crap (it is crap), it can be very, very bad. The news has been peppered the past few years with tales of suicide after online bullying.
I am blessed that I am strong enough to handle it, and when these situations crop up, they become at most an annoyance for a couple of days.
But you know, bullying is bullying. I have seen it on Facebook group pages too. All adults, but there is still that “crew” for lack of a better description. If you do not share their opinion and say they are fabulous, you are wrong. If you do not agree you are wrong, they bully. With words. In public. Online. At gatherings and meetings and functions. They are relentless that their opinion will be the sole opinion. And for what end? What does it matter in the big picture ? By all means, disagree, debate. But we’re not talking about sitting politicians who the public has a right to hold accountable, we’re talking about the people you see at church or in the car pick up line after school.
I have a long history of distaste when it comes to bullying. I went to a prestigious private school. For the most part I loved my experience and I still have the most fabulous group of core friends from that time.
However, there were some experiences that left a little to be desired. Mine involved what in retrospect wasn’t just meanness, but a form of bullying. I have long since forgiven the person who did it, and who did it is immaterial. As an adult you can see they must have been desperately unhappy, as a just turned 17 year old girl, you don’t have that clarity.
It was final semester senior year. We were in exams. I went into the senior only room called “senior study” to get something I forgot and to probably toss books in my cubby as I had an exam in a bit. For whatever reason it was I went to my cubby, which also acted like an in-school mailbox, and saw a note. I pulled it out. Big mistake.
On a plain piece of white paper someone had carefully cut out enough letters to form the words they needed. Yes, just like on some bad crime show on T.V. It was in fact a very I’m-experiencing-a-Dexter-like-moment, only that show hadn’t been created.
The note was horrible and quite frankly sick. It wasn’t the greatest way to preface a final exam or to end the year. It did not take too long before who had done it outed it themselves. They made the mistake of owning what they did to someone, and it only takes one someone to make it all come out. The irony is this was someone I had been friendly with, and with whom I had not been fighting, there was no real beef. It was a huge sense of betrayal as a teenage girl to discover who had done this, and mass confusion at the time as to why. I still 30 some odd years later do not know why. Not that it matters – it was just wrong.
I never told the school, it is not something any teacher or administrator would have tolerated back then, even if they did tolerate some other serious whackamole garbage. I do not believe I ever told my parents either. Some of my friends knew, but I don’t think all. Again, I have forgiven the person who did it although I will never understand, but it was somewhat of a defining moment. I had seen people bullied, and ended up being bullied after a fashion by this. That left a memory. But face it, we all know, Mean Girls wasn’t just a comedy with Lindsay Lohan. Those people exist in every stage of our lives and blessed are those who can just avoid them.
I remember not too many months ago when I was having a conversation with an administrator of an online forum and I expressed an opinion about bullying. Their response was that it was obvious I had never been bullied. To myself, I smiled. Some who are bullied never really stand up for themselves. They go along to get along and have a fear of not being liked or not being popular. I don’t. I refuse to put up with the nonsense, truthfully. I also am comfortable with the fact that not everyone on the face of the earth is always going to like you. It’s just life.
I am passionate and opinionated, that I do not ever deny. Nor do I say I am perfect (even if I am a damn fine cook). I have also learned that when women are of strong opinions a lot of people including ironically other women have a very hard time with that. I find that sad. Just because you haven’t spent your life at PTA Jane, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person, does it?
It’s a big world out there people, and there is room for all of us to be able to express how we feel. I al\ways said blogging was a contact sport. Only none of this occurred today on a blog. It occurred on a website for Internet-based news.
I guess what I am also saying is cyberbullying is not just for kids. Plenty of adults are guilty, too.