Does anyone else remember that time when Facebook (at least I think it was Facebook) allowed you to send anonymous messages to people? My memory is vague but I remember there was a either a pink female symbol or blue male symbol next to the message and no rules or restrictions.  


That is what I remember as my first experience with cyberbullying, although I think it has taken me this long to realize that’s what it was. This was 10+ years ago so as giddy teens and I remember it was a lot of “I have a really big crush on you!” and for the most part, things relatively harmless in nature. I remember going to check my messages and for whatever being so excited to see what had been left for me, only to be completely caught off guard to see things like “you’re so ugly,” “you got so fat” …. as if being a teenage girl wasn’t hard enough!

Fast forward to today, and call me naive, but I never really saw myself as being a target for an online attack. I am not in any way trying to say I am perfect, but I put a lot of effort into trying to be a good person and create a positive environment for myself and the people around me.   

In April 2016 we were in Banff for Neil’s birthday. I had just posted a picture so it wasn’t unusual to see a string of notifications pop up on my home screen. I remember glancing down at my phone and seeing a comment, then another and another…. When I read the first comment, my heart sank.

My initial feeling was one of overwhelming confusion. I was so taken aback by the fact that there was someone out there who felt so strongly about hurting me, that they were willing to take the time to create a fake account and leave a slew of not only hurtful but downright malicious comments on photos that represented such happiness for me. My second feeling was one of fear. You immediately go into a protective mode because now not only was this person attacking me, but they were attacking the people I care about most. My last emotion was one of insurmountable sadness. Not only were the comments mean and hateful, some of them were very personal, which leads me to believe it is someone I know.

I constantly struggle with social media. There is so much good that can from it, but equally as much bad. I hate that, amongst other things, it has given a platform for keyboard warriors to do mean and hurtful things with no reprimand. At the end of the day, I feel incredibly sad for this person. My life is such a happy place to be and I can’t imagine spending my invaluable time on this earth harbouring such negative emotions and taking out attacks on other people. Negativity and hate are self-destructive emotions and I hope this person will one day realize that.

One of the most important learnings for me in the whole experience is that there is no use fighting fire with fire. It would be easy for me to have a pity party, or to fight back with my own hurtful ammunition – but what does that accomplish? The best (and most powerful) thing we can do in situations like this is to try and end the cycle of hate, to talk about it and to share messages of love and encouragement with one another. The more we can create a positive environment online, the less we fuel we will give to the people who feed off of it.

I understand that by having my social media profiles open, I am leaving myself vulnerable for this person to come back (which they have!) but I refuse to give into their attempt to belittle me. If you have had a similar experience, remember this: “One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.” – Michael J. Fox.

Thanks for listening.

 


www.meplusyoustudios.com/

Laura is a music lovin’ marketing and communications professional who started a blog as a passion project. Her number one goal is to keep things positive, real and relatable. Follow Laura’s adventures at http://www.lalalandliving.com/

Instagram: @laladoubleyou

Twitter: @laladoubleyou

Pictures by: @meplusyoustudios

Location for blog post picture: @thebridgettebar

 

{This post was originally published here, on February 13, 2017. It has been reposted with permission.}

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