Over the years we’ve all seen an increase in cyber-bullying. Back in my day (lol) Social Media wasn’t really a thing. Everyone wasn’t online, and it was easy to disconnect. Since A.O.L. 2.0, I’ve been a victim and probably a one time or another the aggressor. All too often, we’re told that if we’re offended by something that we should stop being so sensitive. Rarely are people told to stop being mean. I recently posted about this on my personal Facebook page, and the responses are quite interesting to say the least. One thing that really stood out to me was how many of the men who responded were defending the behavior of the bullies without realizing it. Excuses were made about how “we” shouldn’t let people get to us so easily. I’m sorry but, that’s easier said than done.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That statement is so far from the truth and it needs to go away. Verbal abuse is real, words are harmful! A person doesn’t have to put their hands on your to cause emotional damage.
I spend countless hours online for work and for fun, and I’m probably offended by something that was posted by a friend at least 5 times a day. Not offended to the point where I’m ready to unfollow, or unfriend them. More-so, I’m like “did you really just post that?” So I keep it moving. However there are people who have made it clear that their sole purpose in life is to post harmful things. They’re not always forthcoming with their bullying, they often mask it with raising awareness, or just sharing information.
ESPECIALLY when it comes to women! It may be about our weight, our hair, or cooking skills…really our whole existence. I was reading a post that had a really pretty picture to grab our attention, and I was all in. It was supposed to be about self care and self love. But it wasn’t…
My “friend” who made the post went way left. Mid-way through the post she added a disclaimer that she was about to hurt some feelings and step on some toes, but she’s doing it with love. Mmkay…I’ll bite
I swear I clutched my invisible peals so tightly that I almost fainted! She wasn’t trying to help anyone, she was purposely hurting people’s feelings to make herself feel better. The post was actually about body shaming and victim blaming. I was hurt, not so much for myself, but for so many women who I knew were being triggered by the post. She and I have 472 mutual friends, all of whom are either in the plus fashion industry or plus body positive community. Respect lost, friend deleted!
Which brings me to the point of this post: Creating a safe space online
We have groups, and pages with like minded people where most of the time we’re not subjected to something that could be damaging to us. But that’s not always the case, especially on Facebook. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who feel obligated to remain friends with someone, even if they have been made to feel uncomfortable. Let me tell you something…YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ELIMINATE ANYONE FROM YOUR LIFE WHO DOESN’T DESERVE TO BE THERE! If that means deleting your favorite aunt because she always tags you in a post about the latest weight loss trend, or the best friend from high school who shares offensive political posts. You don’t need to tell them why, you don’t need to warn them. You just have to press the button!
- Limit the time you send online
- Avoid being online when something is trending that could trigger you
- Speak up for yourself
- Seek “shelter.” Which means go to your favorite group where you know your thoughts and feelings are respected
- Avoid social media before bed
- Animal videos! Seriously, those cute kitten and puppy videos help me out a lot
- Make no apologies
Social Media isn’t always going to be a friendly place, we’re not all going to agree, but respecting others needs to be a topic that’s always trending. If you anymore tips on how to create a safe space (on or off line) feel free to share.