As we wrap up our first month of 2018 a few things have come to my attention. It’s so easy to get sucked into situations where we’re co-signing for online bullying and harassment, I thought a blog post about it might not be a bad idea.
I’ve noticed how one simple “tag” into a conversation or an innocent response to a post can be the door way to open-up an online episode of bullying or harassment. This can spiral out of control and it usually happens quickly.
I have seen from experience the damage this type of activity can do to others, and if I’m being honest when I’ve engaged in this type of activity I don’t feel better when it happens. I only feel worse.
My reason for writing this is because I’ve seen an increased amount of division created by online attacks within the adoptee community and it’s not okay. Witnessing these attacks, and even being pulled into a few I’ve found it to be very divisive among our community. We don’t need division. We need unity to move forward.
I can only speak for myself, but I have a life outside of “Adoptee City”. I love my online community of adoptees, but I have so many other things going on in life. Adoptee City is just a small piece of my life, but it does take up a lot of my time and I pour my heart and soul into the areas I participate in.
What does this mean?
I don’t have time for online drama.
If you are an online bully you will be silenced from my personal space. I can’t say you will be silenced online in other peoples spaces, but you will be silenced in mine.
Your either for me or you’re against me. If you are against me that’s okay, but be an adult and either come to me in a private message and talk to me or keep it moving. Whatever you decide to do, I can assure you I’m not losing any sleep either way.
If I get pulled into a situation online, I’m very careful how I navigate things moving forward. Much of the time if it’s a negative dynamic of unproductive communication between one or more people coming off in an attacking way, I don’t take the bait. I make the choice to “opt-out”. I don’t respond to that person directly. If someone lashes out at me in a nasty way, without hesitating I block them.
Let me say I’m not talking about a discussion where we are asked to share our experiences, peaceful or even not so peaceful debating that happens online. I’m talking about attacks that happen among online communities. Most of the time the person perpetrating the attacks is someone who has a history of being an online bully and has problems in various online communities for this behavior. More than likely they are blocked a lot and cause strife in many different areas.
Understand there is a dramatic difference in “Sharing Your Voice” and “Online Bullying & Harrassing”.
When we make the choice to talk about a person, place or business via social media or in an online forum. website, blog, etc. are we asking ourselves what our motive is first?
Is it to speak the truth as we see it? Is it because we have a point to prove and we want to do our best to get our point across? Is it to try to change other’s opinions and we share our truth as a guiding force for this to happen?
There are endless reasons why people share things online but before I share I try to ask myself is, am I trying to help someone or hurt them? Am I presenting my information in a way that others will receive it, or a way that is respectful to those who might read it? Am I coming from a mean, hostile, controlling or aggressive place?
I’ve failed many MANY times, and I’m the first to admit this and I’m a work in progress as we all are. An example for me is communication online between adoptive parents and birth parents and adoptees. I feel most of the time they run over how adoptees feel with what they think they know, and it only adds pain to our issues. Of course I can’t speak for all of them, which would be wrong of me to do but the majority I have come across online and in person this is my experience. It makes me angry, so I stay away from these types of situations where I don’t necessarily have the grace I need to have a healthy dialog with them. One day maybe this will change, but its just how it is right now.
When I see discord online, many times I see others jump on in and start in on the bashing of someone else because the bully aka the ring leader has sparked up some drama and there you go. An entire thread on the internet bashing and smashing others, while they aren’t given the time of day to defend themselves in an appropriate healthy dialog. They aren’t even asked who, what, when where and why BEFORE the perpetrator starts to lash out at the projected target. This is straight toxic foolery to be spun by GROWN ADULTS on the internet. I see kids behave better than this. It’s terribly disturbing.
Sadly, when we see this negative type of interaction going on we sometimes turn the other way, we don’t get involved to save our selves from being drug into the “drama”. I’m so guilty of doing this because I hate drama. I feel like I’ve worked my entire life to move away, change my life, grow up, and be a better person and a productive light to society that the last thing I want to get involved with is “INTERNET DRAMA”. It doesn’t excite me at all, many times I turn the other way and keep it moving.
What has come to my attention lately, is that by me turning the other cheek and walking away I am just as guilty as the person perpetrating the mean, hostile, controlling and aggressive behavior in the online communities. I don’t feel good about just wearing blinders and pretending I don’t see certain things.
What I have done is tread very carefully where I am present in online communities and I’m extremely cautious of who I let inside my personal space because anyone in my personal space has a potential to impact my life in a positive or a negative way.
We all must be careful in this way.
When we are a witness to cyber bullying and/or harassment we have choices we can make regarding how we respond. If it was someone close to us who was being attacked online, a family member or a friend you better believe most of us would jump right in to their defense.
If it’s someone we aren’t close to or we only know through the online world we can make a choice. We could ignore it and act like we don’t see it. We can confront the perpetrator in public or private or comfort the target in public or private. We could also document the behavior and report it as cyber-bullying and/or harassment.
There are many options, but we must realize is that someone is always watching somewhere, and our actions online could very well have some consequences in real life. Screen shots are forever and a lot of time can be used in court. I’ve learned that most people who are cyber bullies and/or cyber harassers are not someone you can even have a healthy dialog with, let alone a conversation where two people can discuss their views in a healthy way. They are so consumed with control, anger and rage they want to be the only one to be heard. There is no communication because their desire is to dominate at all costs, they will always “win” because they use the loudest voice in the online communities. They scare others and use this as a way to control people.
I will say my chances to insert myself into confronting this type of individual online is extremely slim. Why? Because in my lifetime I’ve learned that talking to someone like this is like talking to a wall. There is no point. They don’t have the willingness to listen and learn from others, and they desire to dominate and control. They are always right so what would be the point in confronting them? A lot of times narcissism is a possibility for these types of individuals. It’s all about them, what they want to scream from the roof tops in online platforms, they want to be the loudest and the voice that is never shut down AKA silenced.
I can assure you, most of the time these are the very same people who are blocked and banned from multiple online communities, and by other online people who simply have no time to deal with this type of drama. It’s usually not an isolated incident, but a reoccurring one. That said, for me confronting the person is probably out of the question but if I did feel lead to confront them it would be in a private message letting them know I see them and I’m not okay with their behavior online.
To not turn a blind eye to situations online that I might witness, it’s in my nature to reach out to the target in private and offer a word of encouragement and support. I would also encourage them to ban and block this person who is perpetrating these things onto them. With this kind of personality, most of the time a response will only add fuel to the fire. More than likely the perpetrator has online drama all over the place. Trust me, some people live to complain, and some people are mad at the world no matter what you say to them. Some people are negative from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. I’ve seen it, it’s true! These kind of people will suck the life right out of you!
I’ve learned that sometimes people live in fear or intimidation of those online who are bullying or harassing others therefor they “CO-SIGN” for them instead of blocking/banning them from their online safe space and they shiver at the thought of confronting them. I’m guilty, I’ve been there before but times have changed and I’m not co-signing for inappropriate behavior online anymore.
Confronting someone online who is a bully and/or harasser is something that I wouldn’t recommend. Usually that will unleash the beast that is already showing its true colors. Co-signing for this type of person can be as simple as liking a status they post that is attacking another person, place or business or commenting on something agreeing with them. It can be agreeing with them to keep “Sharing their voice!” without taking into consideration how they are doing it. How are they treating other people online, even the ones they don’t agree with or they have different views with?
Are they attacking a person, a place or a business? Are they being angry, mean, harassing, bullying or acting aggressive?
As the saying goes, “When people show you who they really are, believe them!” – Maya Angelou
Remember, it’s not what you say but how you say it. We are all in control of who or what we let inside our safe spaces. If I see someone else’s safe space is being violated I have a moral obligation to do something, and in most cases for me it’s report the bullying harassing behavior and/or blocking that person as well as encouraging the target to block that person.
No one, I mean NO ONE on earth deserves to get bullied in real life or online. It shouldn’t be tolerated online just like it shouldn’t be tolerated in real life.
Again, there is a HUGE difference in trying to teach and educate others about your mission and passion in life, weather it be adoption, nutrition, marriage, or whatever and coming off in an arrogant, rude, disrespectful, in a mean way.
Anger is a natural response to so many things in life. It’s okay to be ANGRY but It’s when we use that anger for good, doing positive things in positive ways is when it’s a healthy type of anger. When we get stuck in the anger, and our anger spills out into other people’s “Safe Spaces” is when it becomes a big problem.
What I’m seeing frequently online is ANGER used in unhealthy ways and sometimes it’s being put on a pedestal for “SHARING ONES VOICE”. It’s not healthy if it’s a mean spirited, aggressive, intimidating way which is impacting others safe spaces in a negative way. This is not okay. This is another way we can co-sign for someone’s unruly behavior and it’s just as bad as if you were the perpetrator.
I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I am going to make a pledge to do my best to stay away from these type of online interactions and not put myself in vulnerable positions online where such chaos can and does occur. When it does happen I will reach out to the target, and block and ban the perpetrator.
I’ve noticed many times the perpetrators of this type of negative bullying is coming from someone who represents themselves using a fake name they hide behind, and they automatically think they have more power online because they can freely say what they want without anyone knowing who they truly are.
I would like to encourage anyone using fake names like this to be real, be the true you and stop hiding behind fake names just to be able to use it as a tool to cause strife and division in online communities. Stop faking who you are. If you want to be such a bad ass online, be the real you. What are you hiding from?
I used a “pen name” that I wrote under for about 3 years, but this wasn’t to stir shit online. It was because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to be true to who I really was and share my real true feelings from my real true self. I didn’t want to hurt those close to me so I hid how I felt. I was hiding from anyone ever knowing how I truly felt. Then one day I woke up and decided I no longer needed to apologize for my feelings and I had ever right to have them. The pen name worked for awhile and as I gained my confidence and as I shared in online communities I got stronger and I was able to heal in ways I didn’t think I could. Then I got rid of the pen name.
There is a difference in using a pen name to share feelings and using a pen name or a fake name to lash out at others online to hide from the consequences of what this type of behavior sparks. The term most people would use these days is “Trolling”. I’m not going to support this type of activity in my online spaces at all.
I like to call it spreading hate and this type of interaction only sucks the life out of others, and somehow this makes the perpetrator feel strong, big and mighty.
I ask myself, is what I’m typing online something I could stay to someone’s face in real life? Or am I just talking smack behind the keyboard? Am I spreading hate? Am I putting someone down?
I feel like we should all be able to have an educated discussion without putting others down, even when our opinions differ than the other. There’s always going to be someone who supports the opposite of what you support and people with visions that counteract with your visions.
It’s part of life and how we navigate these types of situations has a critical role in our message being received by another person. How about none of us are 100% right, and other opinions are valuable. Are we leading our cause in love? Or are we leading our cause in hate? Are we lifting others up or are we tearing them down? If we are spreading hate and tearing others down we are missing the mark and missing it greatly. Every time we come across this way online , every sentence we share that is filled with hate or tearing someone down because we don’t like their idea is a chance we had to express ourselves in a way that others receive what we have to say that is lost forever. If you come off abrasive be prepared to be blocked. People are turned off by this way of communication. Not only online, but real life as well.
I believe wholeheartedly there are ways to educate about our cause in a healthy way that doesn’t come off unethical, self-serving, mean spirited and intimidating to others. We can educate by being kind and considerate while taking into consideration that each person is entitled to their own opinions. Once we can come to this place of understanding is when we will be validated, listened too and our opinions will be valued and even appreciated online and in real life.
There was a time in my life where I was angry and mad at the world. A few years ago online, I came across a fellow adoptee who was selling a service to her fellow adoptees and it appalled me because the service she was selling is something we shouldn’t have to pay for- the information we should have never been denied to begin with. I will admit, I didn’t like her because of her vision and what she was doing in the adoptee arena. I called her out on Twitter, and it created WW3 online. What I realized was, WHO THE HELL AM I TO SAY ANYTHING TO THIS WOMAN about what she is doing in her life? I had to check myself and simmer down because I am no one special and my opinion is just that, an opinion. I was so convicted that I felt terrible and I ended up apologizing to her and telling her I was sorry for being an asshole online.
What I should have done, was sent her a private message asking her what her vision was, gotten some details to see where her mind is with what she is doing and then and only then in a private safe space express my feelings regarding this topic. I didn’t do that, but I had wished I did.
Thankfully she accepted my apology and we went on our merry way. I learned from this situation that certain times I might feel a certain way about things but it’s not my job to go roaring in like CUJO yelling it to the entire world I disagree with someone. How juvenile and pitiful was that of me anyway? I learned so much from that situation and there are several others that I have learned from along the way.
Thank God for learning experiences!
For anyone reading, I would like to challenge you to ask yourself before posting things online “Am I helping someone or am I trying to hurt them?” or “Am I co-signing for someone else’s online bullying and harassment or am I eliminating this kind of interaction from my life?”
Sadly, the perpetrator is only alienating themselves from perfect opportunities to teach others about their cause or passion but coming off as a bully and/or a harasser and this is only going to create division, cause strife and create negative interactions online.
I’m controlling my safe space these days and these types of people must go. I refuse to deal with any nonsense in real life and the same goes for the online world. When it’s all said and done we have to realize the words we choose to use online can have consequences and they can get us in trouble.
If you can come at me privately with an attempt to discuss things in a healthy dialog and I will be happy to converse but if you come at me sideways mobbing me in a public setting be prepared for the consequences. Just because you are online behind a keyboard doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences. If you can’t respect me even if you don’t agree with me I ask you to keep it moving.
If I see bullying happening online I have a moral obligation to reach out to the target and make sure they are okay, as well as encourage them to block the perpetrator. Sometimes we aren’t strong to make these decision on our own and someone else’s opinion or suggestion is all we need to put an end to a chaotic situation online. I encourage you to do the same.
If you are reading this and if the shoe fits, I would like to extend empathy to you and your situation. I know why people come off as bullies and have mean characteristics. My hope for you is, that healing can happen in your life, so you can take your anger and use it in positive ways. One day I hope you can say without a doubt you have changed so many lives for the good by spreading good vibes while using your voice and sharing your truth because it is possible. I hope you get to that space sooner than later. You deserve to be happy and healthy and you have purpose!
We all deserve healthy interactions and healthy dialog and we can agree to disagree.
Anything less is something I refuse to be a part of in real life or online. I’m the boss of my life and I choose who I allow in it, and who I refuse to let enter my safe space.
Thanks for reading.