keep your joy

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How do you keep your joy? How do you keep your joy in the face of unpleasantness?

It is very true that you cannot control the actions of others, you can only control your own actions and behavior.

As a writer and a blogger I have been a target of unpleasantness. It is nothing new, but that never makes it right. When you write, you are putting yourself out there. You will have fans of your writing as well as the detractors. Sometimes the people are those you know, but a lot of the time they are just strangers.

When people love something I write, or a photo, or a recipe it is such a nice feeling. That is what makes blogging so fun. It’s a very neat connection at times.

I am blessed with meeting some very cool people throughout the years I have been writing. I have also had some unpleasant experiences. The two topics that seem to cause unpleasant experiences always seem to get whittled down to two topics: politics and animal rescue. That is why I don’t write about these two topics very much any more.

One of the newer topics I have touched on a couple of times now, and will continue to cover is cyber bullying and cyber stalking. It’s real, it happens every day. It happens to kids and adults alike. It is an unpleasant side of the Internet.

I have been a victim of this welcome to bizarre-O world behavior for a while now. It began a couple weeks before my 50th birthday. The people doing this to me used to be in my life. They left my life of their own accord years ago. Only they didn’t really leave. They have tracked me via the Internet.

It is sad and disturbing at the same time that these people have nothing better to do. They pore over blog posts looking for ways to twist topics I have written about. They skew and oddly sexualize things. From a psychological perspective it’s obvious they need help, and a lot of it.

For the most part, I ignore the whole thing. You see it is pretty simple why they persist: they are miserably unhappy people who want to steal the joy of others and pervert it. It’s sad and stuck all at the same time. But I can’t control their actions, I can only control my own. And I choose to be the better person in the equation.

But what this experience has done in addition is spurn an interest within me. Cyber bullying and cyber stalking is a very timely topic in this country. Today I read about U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) and his efforts to do something about cyber stalking.

In a Canadian publication I found the story of a mom crusading for most simply put, respect. You see, her teenage daughter committed suicide after being cyber bullied by a thirty-five year old man.

In The Providence Journal in late May there was a very thoughtful editorial on cyber bullying. The writer points out the high profile cyber bullying cases we hear about are the ones that lead to suicide and so on . Basically, if the case is dramatic and flashy, it gets attention.

The thing is this: I am an adult. I can consider the source and tune it out. My rational mind knows that it is the handiwork of truly messed up people. But not everyone can process cyber bullying pragmatically for lack of a better description, especially in a lot of the cases, the young.

There is a fascinating editorial in the New York Times today. Here is an excerpt:

The Opinion Pages / OP TALK New York Times : Rise of the Internet Hate Machine
By JAKE FLANAGIN JUNE 16, 2014 11:37 AM

Welcome to the age of Internet hate, when “it’s never been easier to send an anonymous death threat,” writes Jack Shafer for Reuters…..The Internet and social media have drastically altered the conventions of traditional bullying, threatening and harassment. Phenomena once thought native to playgrounds and high school locker rooms are now a bug of human interaction through technology — for children, teenagers and adults alike.

Has the Internet made us more hateful? Or has the Internet simply made it easier for us to exercise our in-born spite?…..”I was so puzzled by people who were telling us that anonymity was the reason there was so much vile meanness and attacks online,” said the Canadian journalist Paula Todd in a video interview with the National Post. ….Ms. Todd is the author of “Extreme Mean,” which examines “motives and machinations behind cyber-abuse — tormenting, trolling, harassment, cyber-bullying, stalking, and sexual extortion — and the toll it is taking on children, youth, and adults around the world.”

….In a cover story for the January 2014 issue of Pacific Standard, Amanda Hess relayed her own personal encounter with cyberabuse: a Twitter account set up for the express purpose of issuing threats — like stalking, rape and decapitation — to the popular Slate staff writer. “I felt disoriented and terrified,” she recalls. “Then embarrassed for being scared, and, finally, pissed.” She continued, “headlessfemalepig was clearly a deranged individual with a bizarre fixation on me. I picked up my phone and dialed 911.”….But online misogyny need not always be wielded by men. There are countless examples of women utilizing the Internet and social media to spread hate. …..Women victims of Internet hate also aren’t limited to progressive ideologies. Ms. Hess is a celebrated feminist writer with a largely liberal readership, but conservative women are no less exempt…..

Take the time to read the entire op-ed, it is fascinating. My bringing up cyber bullying on my blog will without a doubt cause a renewed flurry of bullying attempts towards me. I expect it, and I don’t care. Their behavior is theirs to deal with. But this topic of cyber bullying is garnering more attention every day and that is a positive thing.

Even the United States Supreme Court is getting interested in this with regard to Facebook in particular:

Huffington Post Politics: Supreme Court Will Hear Appeal Over Online Threats
| By By SAM HANANEL
Posted: 06/16/2014 10:05 am EDT Updated: 2 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will consider the free speech rights of people who use violent or threatening language on Facebook and other electronic media where the speaker’s intent is not always clear.

The court on Monday agreed to take up the case of an eastern Pennsylvania man sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for posting online rants about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a school and slitting the throat of an FBI agent…..For more than 40 years, the Supreme Court has said that “true threats” to harm another person are not protected speech under the First Amendment. But the court has cautioned that laws prohibiting threats must not infringe on constitutionally protected speech. That includes “political hyperbole” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks” that fall shy of true threats.

The federal statute targeting threats of violence is likely to be used more often in the coming years “as our speech increasingly migrates from in-person and traditional handwritten communication to digital devices and the Internet,” said Clay Calvert, a law professor at the University of Florida.

Calvert, one of several free speech advocates who submitted a legal brief urging the court to use a subjective standard, said people mistakenly seem to feel that they can get away with more incendiary speech on the Internet, in tweets and in texts.

According to the Justice Department, 63 people were indicted on federal charges of making illegal threats in the 2013 fiscal year. That was up from 53 cases the previous year.

At the end of the day, it’s simple: don’t let people steal your joy. You know who you are and so do the people who love and care about you. There are a lot of sad and disturbed individuals on this planet, don’t make their issues yours. Also remember that God don’t like ugly and neither do most individuals with a conscience.

Thanks for stopping by!

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