At some point or another, we’ve all been the victim of someone else’s hate, criticisms and bullying of us. Old timers will say that kids and even adults these days are becoming too sensitive and easily offended by everything. People are offended by the things that are said to them, about them or about things they believe in. While I tend to see it as well and agree, I also disagree.
The last 10-15 years there has been a dramatic shift in our social world with the likes of social media. You can instantly connect with millions of people from all over the world without leaving your house. News spreads like a heavily fueled wild fire in a wind storm. When I was in school, I’d get picked on for being the horsey kid. I’d wear my horse riding clothes to school now and then in anticipation of my after school activities. Kids would pick on me and I slowly quit dressing like a horsey girl to avoid the unkind and uncomfortable comments. The nice thing looking back, was you didn’t have camera phones and social media where your bullies would share how stupid you looked for the world to laugh at. Basically the bullying stayed within your class or group of people you were around.
Today’s bullying has gone to such extremes! Its no longer the small scale like I remember, but now you have social media and keyboard warriors with nothing better to do than say mean and hurtful things about other people whether they know them or not. Now, you have bullies that have a much larger world stage in some cases and they’ll rant and rave as long as they have supporters of their opinions. They can single handedly ruin someones reputation with a few clicks of a mouse whether the information is factual or not. Not to mention the spreading of “fake news” or only sharing bad news or news that fits their motivation in order to gain that power they seek.
Social media is a very powerful platform for most people to share the good in the world. Family love, vacation pictures, competition successes are easily shared to people you don’t see often but can be with, by simply having social media. For me personally, its my way of connecting and helping people all over the world. I’ll post my most proud accomplishments for all my “friends” to see and now and then I’ll post my sad moments, failures or struggles to gain emotional support. This really opens you up and makes you vulnerable as a person because now you are opening yourself up to judgment and criticism from people and a lot of times from people who don’t even know you. People will openly hate on you without a legitimate reason why simply because they can.
Its important to remember that he who is the bully, is the one with the issue. Our true substance is how we treat others. When we bully, mistreat and intentionally hurt others, we are not telling the world who “they” are, but we are actually expressing who we are on the inside. Bullies typically do the most damage when they are protected behind a keyboard because when confronted, most bullies are truly insecure cowards. When you take their barrier away and confront them face to face, often times they are all talk, no action and no real source for true information.
When we are faced with someone bullying us, our own weaknesses will surface and drag us down. Shame becomes a factor where we let the bully’s words validate who we think we are, they validate our feelings of not being good enough. How do we know that… how many times have you been hung up on 1 negative comment about something rather than celebrating the 100 good comments? We become insecure when the chain of community support is broken. Humans are afraid of failure, they are afraid of being alone, and we are afraid of not being good “enough”. Bullying is such a damaging thing, not because of the words, but because those words cause us to doubt ourselves. As a kid I was convinced that I was a dork and an outcast because I dressed in my riding outfit. I felt like an outsider and as a result I changed my clothes to fit in with the rest of the herd. We feel safer in numbers especially when we follow the crowd to avoid being exposed for being different. Now a days, I understand more about shame, as a kid I was very sensitive to what others thought of me. Now, I can go to the grocery store in my dirty jeans, messy hair, probably smelling of cow manure and I don’t care!
I don’t claim to be immune to criticism and bullying one bit, and the more time I spend online, the more I feel insecure about my ability, self worth, etc simply because people make comments that I take personally. I just keep reminding myself to practice skills for navigating my emotions and feelings. I focus on reminding myself that non positive or uplifting comments, are not actually comments aren’t about me, they are about the person spewing their hateful heart and their perspective based on their experience or lack of. When I feel shame, its usually an insecurity and weakness within myself that I need to work on that’ll relive me of my sad thoughts. And when I feel the need to shrink and hide from the peanut gallery to avoid criticism and confrontation, I remind myself that my path, my journey are mine and mine alone. As long as I feel I am doing the very best I can do for myself, that’s all I can do. No one walks in my shoes, no one has my same vision or goals and no 2 people will EVER share the same perspectives or experiences in life, therefore there is nothing I need to change about myself just because someone else has an issue with how I live my life.
Lastly, a great quote I saw the other day was “If I am to be insulted, I must first value your opinion.” I love that because its so easy to take personally what other people say. And with social media, we start to feel insulted by comments from people we don’t know and they don’t know us! How silly is that? So, I remind myself, “do I value this person’s opinion because they wish to see me grow, or am I hurt by the comments because on some level I think they are right?”