Hello, friends. I want to talk about something today that is very near to my heart. It may be triggering to some, and to others, you may not even care. Today, I want to talk about bullying. Specifically, cyber bullying. Recently, a very funny man named Wade, who I regularly watch on YouTube, and who I follow on social media, made a post to his Tumblr page that tugged at my heart. In his post, Wade spoke poignantly about how we, as a generation who spends much of our lives online, treat other people on social media, and shed some light on the ever growing issue of cyber bullying.
In his post, Wade writes:
“It’s scary putting yourself out there. Standing up in front of a crowd hiding behind anonymous masks especially. I pour my heart out and get “Shut up Wade.” or “You’ll never be as funny as X-person.” I deal with it. But honestly, I shouldn’t have to. And you all shouldn’t have to deal with hate either. Even when we poke fun in jest we sometimes pick a scab and cause pain. Sometimes jokes do sting a little. It happens. Drawing that line is sometimes hard. Mistakes are made.
But one thing that is never ok, and is nowhere close to that line, is pure hate. Messages like “Go Kill yourself” “Go Die” “You Are the Worst Person Ever” or “Stop trying to be something you’re not, loser” are never ok messages to send. If you joke with me about losing hair, it can be funny. I can laugh. I can also feel a bit of a sting. But I know it’s in good fun. But the pure hate messages are not ok. And I expect better of all of you.”
This hit so close to home for me, and honestly broke my heart a little. While I may not have a very large presence in the online community these days, I did once upon a time. I used to run a YouTube channel, where I rambled and ranted about my life working in retail, and took my camera along with me everywhere I went. It is so secret that I suffer from adult acne, and it is also no secret that I have struggled with my weight for the majority of my life. When I first started uploading videos, I never thought in a million years that people would be cruel to me. Why would they? I uploaded my vlogs so that my friends could watch them, and laugh with me, and maybe some strangers could relate, and we could become friends. Admittedly, I was naive.
Very soon after I uploaded my first few videos, the comments started. They weren’t all bad, I often got compliments and feedback from people who honestly wanted to spark conversation, and that was fantastic… but then there was the other side. The comments that most people never saw. See, I was smart enough to make comments hidden until I had the chance to moderate them. So all of the “kill yourself” and “you’re so fucking ugly” comments never saw the light of day. No one ever saw that the majority of the comments on my videos were making cruel remarks about my bad skin, or my round face, or my messy hair, or my voice… it hurt. It hurt a lot. Sometimes, if the comment wasn’t that bad, I would allow it to be posted, and respond with something sassy and sarcastic, to show the world that I didn’t give a shit what people thought about me, or how I looked, and that I was better than all that. But, honestly, it was a front. I did care. I cared a lot. So, I stopped doing something that I loved doing, because the emotional pain inflicted by completely strangers hurt too badly to continue.
Later, when I moved on to podcasting, I faced similar ridicule. While my face was never present in my shows, people knew it. And when my show gained momentum, and some popularity, the trolls reared their ugly heads once again. I had built up walls, and had developed a harder outer shell, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt still.
Wade’s post also talks about how we all face our fair share of troubles, no matter who we are. You never know someone’s story. For some reason, you might think that responding with”kys” (kill yourself) on someone’s video, or comment, is witty, or funny, but it isn’t. It isn’t funny at all. You might not be serious, or maybe you are, but that is not okay. It is not okay to tell someone to hurt themselves, or to end their life, just because they posted something that you disagree with, or something that you think is stupid. I don’t know what happened to this generation, or where we learned that telling people to kill themselves was funny, or clever, or made you superior, but it doesn’t.
You don’t know what that person is struggling with. You’re hiding behind your own cloak of anonymity, so that other people can not see you, and can’t pick you apart and analyze your weaknesses, so taking a shot at someone who was brave enough to put themselves out there, for the whole world to see, does not make you better than them. You’re not clever, and you’re not funny. You’re sad. For whatever reason, you need to hide in the shadows, and tear other people down, for no reason other than to, what… get attention? Ruin their day? Make yourself feel better about your own life? What reason could you possible have for treating others like this? If you’re hurting, you’re not alone. You don’t have to hurt others to try and make yourself feel better. There are other people out there who are hurting just as badly as you are, and you may have just given them that final push to throw their lives away, and you would never even know.
As Wade says toward the end of his post:
“Life is hard. Life throws punches. We all feel them. We don’t need to throw anymore. Love one another. Embrace one another for what we all have in common. We are all part of the Minion Army here. We are all people who want to laugh. We are all people who feel the daily pains of life. Don’t we suffer enough?”
“Let’s all learn from our mistakes, and try to be a better person than we are today.”
Thanks for reading, friends. You can read Wade’s full post here.