One of the biggest right now has to do with online interactions. Specifically the category of cyber bulling.
I know the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear that term is teenagers. But I am here to remind us all that it is not just teens that are on the receiving end of this bad behavior. There are many adults who participate. Both those who bully and those who are bullied.
I would like to extend this invitation to everyone: Please do not bully. Not in virtual reality, not in real-life reality either.
Let us just get along. If you do not wish to interact with an individual, just do not do it. There is no need or benefit in going up to them and specifically ignoring them, or acting like they do not exist. When a person is standing next to you and you believe they do not exist, does that mean you do not exist either? Likewise, going into a person’s space on the internet (even if it is simply where the person may see it) and talking about them, or saying rude things to them is bullying. Do not do it!
Public versus private. If you are planning or simply talking about private events, do it privately! Or in the least do not be offended when “public” people ask for details because it looks like a fun thing. *
I believe one of the biggest reasons people do this on the internet is they don’t see it as real. People who if you asked them in person if they are a bully would tell you they are not. In person they probably would not perform the actions that hurt. Why then does s/he feel differently about typing bullying words? I do not know the reason, nor do I want to dwell on that, I am tired of trying to find out.
This is why my online presence has been very scarce for the last months. Do not ask details, I will not share names, I likely will not even tell the story with names changed. This is part of my resolve to choose to not be offended any more. And, yes, I do recognize that being offended is a choice; even if a person intends to offend mee I still can choose not to be offended. I am human and probably will find offense at times, but I am working on decreasing this occurrence.
Just let’s remember what we do online is the same as going into another person’s home and saying/doing these things. It stirs the same feelings in your own self. The biggest difference is that in person, you can use body language and tone of voice. When a person reads a message, it is open to interpretation based on what mood they are in, health, what they were just doing, etc. Personally I do not like feeling like a “friend” has come to my home and started being rude, It would make mee want to kick them out. So essentially that is what happened, I logged out and kicked them out of my personal space.
Then, one day I was talking to a friend, she noticed I had not been online in a while (we were talking about facebook specifically) and asked if I was okay. This is a real friend. In the course of the conversation she asked if I missed it. I understood the question to be about missing facebook. I said that honestly no I do not. As I have reflected on that conversation it occurs to mee that perhaps she was asking if I missed people. I suddenly realized that while I kicked out the bullies, I also kicked out the not-bullies. And I found that I missed out on a lot of great things. (Things that I would know if I were “present” in the conversations. I know some people have sent mee info/messages on facebook. I know because you have told mee to go look and reply. Slowly I think I will get to them.) So do I miss facebook? Not necessarily.
Do I miss people? Yes! The positive ones. Those who uplift, and bring a smile to my face. I miss the fun conversations that I am sure have taken place among my siblings and cousins. I miss being able to laugh with friends when they laugh or being able to shed a tear when a friend relates bad news. The years and miles have separated many people. The internet offers to be a gap connector. Though the distance is great, we can enter each other’s’ homes and share our lives. That is why I still have hope.
So, If you are worried that you are a bully, step back read what you type (listen to what you say) and think about how that would sound/feel if directed at (or excluded) you. Only you can know your intentions. If you can better/more clearly/less offensively state something, try. Let us all work together to become a better society. I know we can do it together.
* This brings up another point: Stop whining because “Amy” and “Sally” are friends and hang out. If you want to do things with Amy, invite her to get together, instead of crying because she invited Sally. Do you want a friend that only whines and tries to make you feel bad? I most certainly do not, I cannot think of anyone who does. And even if a person does want that, do you really want to choose that kind of negativity for your life, or your family’s life? I do not.
Friends are good to have. They are great to have. We can learn from each other. We can have fun together. And people can have friends that are other people. Just because I enjoy walking with one friend and cooking with another, does not mean I can’t do something else with yet another person. No one can be everybody’s everything.